A big payoff for an easy job, even if it stretches the law to the breaking point? Too good to be true? Of course it is. And what makes it even worse for P.I. Varian Pike is that he has a new partner, a young fast-talking, Walt Whitman quoting, Samurai loving, doo-wop singing ex-con Ronnie Hayes aka Fly who is also a member of the notorious Vagabond Jesters. Asked to steal x-rated photos from a tabloid reporter, Pike lets Fly handle the break-in. But it is a set up. No sexy pictures. Just the body of a dead reporter inside the house. And the sound of rapidly approaching sirens. Pike has often played loose with the rules, but not like this. He doesn’t have much of a code, especially one as elaborate as the Samurai code, but he just won’t turn his back on a friend or a partner. Pike goes to extremes to keep Fly out of jail and to answer two big questions: Who wanted the writer for Top Secret dead? And who wanted to set Varian Pike up to take the fall?
As Pike begins to dig, the trail leads to a secretive investment company that claims consistently unrealistic returns. Pike suspects that the reporter was killed because he had uncovered something like a Ponzi scheme. Instead he finds an investor with a legitimate scheme for beating the market who desperately wants to protect his brilliant idea. Already entangled with the mob, he can’t risk public exposure.
Caught between the investor and his army and his mob-connected allies, Pike and Fly dance a dangerous dance trying to avoid them. And then there are the cops led by a corrupt detective who wants Fly to fry for murder. It seems that everybody wants Fly to take the fall. And for Varian to die. Bodies begin to add up.
After some clever maneuvers Pike figures out how to pit his enemies against each other. The result is the “Greenwich Massacre” that he engineers with some help from the Vagabond Jesters. Just when it seems like the story is over with Pike and Fly and the Jesters out of danger and free of threats, two Jesters tell Pike that Fly has been kidnapped by a gangster who blames Pike for costing him a lot of money. He uses Fly to lure Pike into a trap. Pike manages to rescue Fly and take care of his enemies. Pike creates a plausible enough story to keep the police at bay. Fly decides that it is time to live out his dream and head for the West Coast where “a new scene is happening.” Pike finds that he has just about used up all his markers in town and heads west himself, but with no real destination. He ends up in the middle of Ohio staring at an empty road.