The story starts with Mike Hammer meeting a red-headed prostitute in a diner. She is hassled by a man she appears to know and fear but Mike deals with him swiftly. Despite little conversation, he gives her some money to get a real job and leaves. The next day she is found dead, the victim of an apparent hit-and-run accident. Mike does not believe this and proceeds to hunt down her murderers. In the process he uncovers a massive and powerful prostitution ring in New York.