It's been months since Mario Balzic retired, and the position of Rocksburg's police chief has been open ever since. To the dismay of Detective Sergeant Rugs Carlucci, Mayor Angelo Bellotti is holding his cards close to his chest. A career underachiever with some surprising inner strengths, Rugs isn't even sure of his own ambitions. Carlucci's aging, incessantly demanding mother is already complaining about her son's hefty overtime duty, unwilling to understand that without it he couldn't afford the care she needs. And Rugs knows the job itself would be more pain than prestige, with a department out of money and dirt-low on staff. Now Rugs faces a grisly, unexpected test of his suddenly elevated status. A woman has been found horribly raped and mortally battered.