Reporter Willie Black has squandered many things in his life, including a cushy job covering - and partying with - the politicians at the capitol. Now he's back on the night cops beat, right where he started almost 30 years ago. But the thing Willie's always had going for him is grit. When a coed at the local university is murdered, the alleged killer is arrested within days. Everyone seems to think the case is closed - except Willie. Embarking on a one-man crusade to get the story, he runs afoul of David Junior Shiflett.
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The Quarry was where Alicia Parker Simpson identified Richard Slade as her rapist 28 years ago. Five days after DNA evidence recently freed Slade from the prison system in which he had spent his adult life, Alicia Simpson was found shot to death. Almost everyone thinks Slade did it - who can blame them? - but Willie has his doubts. And when the full weight of the city's old money falls on him, trying to crush the story, he becomes even more determined to chase the thing that always seems to get him into trouble: the truth.
Les Hacker doesn't seem to have an enemy in the world - other than whoever tried to kill him with a high-powered rifle while he was sitting on a park bench six floors below Willie Black's living room window. Les is the closest thing Willie has had to a father figure in a checkered life of drinking, divorces, and journalism. He certainly has better qualifications than any of the other men Willie's mother, Peggy, took in over the years. Of course, as Willie would say, that would only make him a tall midget.
Richmond is in a panic. For the fourth time in eighteen months, a young girl or woman has been brutalized and murdered. This time the body of a fourteen-year-old girl is found in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom train station. On her ankle is the same perversely cartoonish tattoo that has led the cops and newspapers to dub the perpetrator the Tweety Bird killer.