This novel takes place in Manhattan. The protagonist is Ian MacDonald, a senior trial Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office. Ian is prosecuting a mobster's son for the brutal rape and murder of a young woman, Mary Rusk. Mary is abducted as she is walking to the Staten Island Ferry after working late at her job. The trial ends with a hung jury because one of the jurors has been bought. The juror has agreed to vote not guilty in return for a large sum of money. The fixer is Barry Bradford, a former assistant district attorney who has gone into the business of fixing juries. If the jury system is to survive, Bradford must be stopped.
There are three other story lines in the novel:
1. The District Attorney's Office receives a letter from an inmate/patient of a hospital for the criminally insane. The inmate claims that he wants to confess to a felony murder he committed with an accomplice. If he is telling the truth, there is a killer walking the streets. He must be found and evidence, other than the word of an insane man, must be developed in the seven year old case.
2. An interim District Attorney appointed by the governor is a disaster. He pursues his only goal, to get elected, at the cost of his office's investigations. Ian's mentor is eventually persuaded to consider the job.
3. Ian falls in love with Adele Rusk, Mary's sister and a brilliant intern at New York Presbyterian Hospital. This love affair has to be carried on surreptitiously lest the case be taken away from Ian to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Barry Bradford is planning to fix a juror selected for the re-trail. Ian and the police i eventually gather enough probable cause to install eavesdropping devices. The installers are almost caught. One of the undercover officers is shot.
Bradford identifies a selected juror in the second trial whom, he is sure, will take a bribe.