April 1952. Los Angeles. After thirteen-year-old Sandy Duncan shoots his stepfather in the temple and carves a symbol into the corpse's forehead in imitation of a comic book, district attorney Seymour Markley launches a grand jury investigation into the murder and its causes, an investigation that could implicate east coast crime boss James Manning and end his thirty-year career.
Also potentially implicated: the comic book's creator, Eugene Dahl, who now spends his mornings working as a milkman and his evenings warming bar stools.
Threatening notes begin appearing nailed to his front door, notes that draw him to a downtown hotel where one of the district attorney's witnesses, one of the men who could bring down James Manning, is being held. There, Eugene finds the witness murdered, as well as the police officer charged with protecting him; and he finds himself framed for those murders.
He's forced to go on the run, and, in order to clear his name, to devise a plan that involves deeds far worse than anything he's been framed for. And he must commit those deeds with the police right behind him.