Ian MacDonald is a senior trial assistant district attorney in the Homicide Bureau of the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorneys Office. He has been assigned a major murder trial of a mobster's son accused of abducting, raping, and strangling to death a young lady who was working as a bank intern in one of the nations largest banks headquartered in lower manhattan. Having worked late one night to finish up monthly reports she was walking to the Staten Island ferry when abducted. Her body was dumped in the middle of a vacant street in lower manhattan. After a two week trial, the case was submitted to the jury and it was soon apparent that one of the jurors would not deliberate with the others. He insisted in voting against a conviction and he refused to discuss his decision with his fellow jurors. Ultimately the trial judge had to declare a mistrial. An initial investigation discloses that the juror was paid to vote not guilty by a lawyer, whose business is to guarantee clients that there will not be a conviction because he is able to fix a juror.
If the constitutional right of trial by jury is to be preserved, Ian must find out who did this, make an arrest and assure that it doesn't happen again during the retrial of this case, or, for that matter, in any other case.
Ian's efforts are thwarted by at least four factors:
- His boss is an interim DA, appointed by governor, after the elected District Attorney dies while in office. He is a mistake. His only goal is to get himself elected. He politicizes the office and jeopardizes investigations, including Ian's by interfering and having damaging press conferences. The governor has to remedy that problem.
- During trial preparation, Ian is referred a letter form an inmate/patient of a hospital for the criminally insane who believes that, if he admits to a murder he helped commit seven years ago, he may get well. Ian finds the cold case. There are only two problems: the perpetrator is insane, and, it is clear that he had an accomplice who was never arrested and is out roaming the streets, possibly killing others.
- Ian has fallen in love with Adele, the sister of the deceased bank intern, who is a brilliant resident at a major New York Hospital. He should probably not be the trial assistant for the retrial but he is convinced of the defendant's guilt, and wants to convict him. Ian and Adele agree to try to keep their relationship a secret and to hope no one learns of it.
-the father of the deceased intern has a gun, and will kill the defendant if Ian does not convict him.