Chicago private eye Paul Whelan is looking for some much-needed cash, when a cagey lawyer hires him to find a missing person. Sam Burwell was last seen running a booth at Maxwell Street's open-air flea market, a place where tires, tools, trinkets, and the odd treasure are sold alongside food of every ethnic description. Whelan's search leads nowhere until Burwell is found murdered, and the Chicago police take over the case. But Burwell's childhood friend, an elderly black man named O. C. Brown, asks Whelan to look into the murder. Returning to his favorite haunts - Chicago's streets, with a story on every corner and a new restaurant on every block - Whelan slowly enters an underworld of predators and scavengers, where a killer can hide in plain sight.