A bone-chilling Chicago winter. Marlo is still dead, Phil the cat still purrs for Old Forester bourbon, and Mack still watches himself from above. But nothing else is as it seems. Mystery nests within mystery. Villainy secrets itself, burrowed within the corrupted hollows of polite society, biding its time. Pressing questions about the mayor and a pick-pocket prostitute on the run from the mob must go unanswered as Raymond Mackey is sidelined in a new job. On the upside, the Chandler Illinois Police Department pays him enough to help take the retirement squeeze off the booze and cigarettes. The downside is the department rule against smoking and drinking. That, and everybody with a badge hates Mack as much as ever.
A welcome diversion shows up in the form of Nadia King, an alluring single mother who asks Mack for some off-the-books help recovering a missing heirloom. It might just be the easiest assignment he’s ever had. Until it isn’t. The hand-carved Russian nesting doll is one hundred seventy-four years old. Open her up and she’s full of secrets. But first he has to find her. Then he has to stay alive long enough to understand that smile on her face.
Mack’s road to enlightenment is fraught with danger and littered with cautionary tales. A casino manager brutally beaten into the afterlife by his own employees. A decorated cop shot to death in his mother’s home as she listens, bound and gagged, from the kitchen. A dope dealer on trial for allegedly murdering a successful restauranteur in a robbery gone bad. A criminal defense lawyer with pointy boots, a ponytail, and a bottomless retainer. An ex-felon pornographer accusing a cop of running a protection racket. A quiet girl in a yellow coat who knows too much for her own good. And a giant, brick building of a guy named Hell with a broken poker chip in his pocket and Mack on his mind. It doesn’t help that trust is in such short supply, or that Big Man is watching him from every corner of the city. Marlo is dead and gone. The only one who can watch over Mack… is Mack.