Just days from meeting the reaper, a convicted murderer hires Chicago's most hard-boiled PI to save his neck—before the executioner can claim itRobert Westland's death is just around the corner when he finally decides to fight the murder rap that's sending him to the electric chair. Fingered for his wife's grisly demise, Westland is in a bind, and his last hope is Bill Crane, a booze-soaked detective who's as ruthless with a quip as he is when trawling the streets for Chicago's most brutal criminal element. Crane's got just a few days to suss out the real killer—someone clever enough to off Westland's wife and lock her in a room whose only key belongs to Westland himself. Fueled by an abundance of liquor and a habit of bad manners, Crane sets his sights on a cast of oddball characters among whom hides a murderer. But in 1930s Chicago, everyone's got a secret, and the pressure is on for Crane to separate the dangerous from the truly homicidal before it's too late.