A dead man lay reeking of alcohol--no forced entry, no visible wounds, and an empty bottle of seconal. It all added up to a simple suicide. Or did it? Why would an alcoholic artist, who was terrified of drugs, have ended his life with sleeping pills? It's all up to Detective Steve Carella of the 87th Precinct to uncover the real story.
This would probably rate a good "Columbo" episode on its own. Again, McBain here introduces the question of whether to believe the worst in people (though for Carella, unlike Kling, it is his job to thoroughly eliminate the possibility of murder.) Since the wife is a key suspect, it also opens up the question of marital loyalty (How well do we know the people who share our lives, really?) in a way similar to the Kling subplot.