Nicholas Barlow - the flamboyant, Falstaffian, food-and-drink-loving head of a Manhattan publishing house - relishes a good murder. In print, of course. But when his star author of celebrity tell-alls is carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey, Barlow decided to put down his blue pencil and pick up the blood-red trail of a real-life killer. With the strategic genius of his bedridden brother, Timothy, and the forensic skills of tough New York cop Lirutenant Joe Scanlon helping him edit down the list of suspects, Barlow is soon lining up a slew of clues that may reveal who put the knife in this backstabbing, albeit bestselling, writer. And whether Barlow is pondering death (and what to order for lunch) at the Four Seasons, or jetting to California to question the rich and shameless of movieland, he finds that true crime is transforming his safe, bookish existence into the intrigue-laden world of an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Only then does Barlow, who still perfers Guccis to gumshoes, discover the truth Sam Spade already knows: closing in on evil is not for sissies. It's serious business. Dead serious.