He's just gotten some bad news, and its impact has made him immobile and fearful. He's always known that the racking cough was not just something that was going to go away, that the ache in his chest was indicative of something more serious. And now he's found out that he has a lesion on his lung which could be malignant. He's set to sit and wait and do nothing else until he gets the results, but is swayed into action by a call from an old buddy of his from the service, Harry Burroughs.
The Nameless Detective is hired by a young wife to find out whether her husband has been having an affair. He trails the husband to a motel of cabins in a small village, sees him meet with a bald man, and then return to his cabin. Hours later, Nameless realizes the cabin may have a backdoor; he investigates and finds the husband has been murdered!
Former pulp writer and current hack Russell Dancer invites Nameless to the first annual Western Pulp Convention in San Francisco. He wants Nameless to help him locate the person who is trying to blackmail Dancer for a purported plagiarism of a story called "Hoodwink". Arriving at the convention, Nameless discovers that a group of former friends (and now uncomfortable colleagues) have all received blackmail notes.
Nameless is called in by his friend, police lieutenant Eberhardt, when a dead woman's purse contains Nameless's business card. Nameless has never met her, and cannot make a connection. Next, Nameless is hired to track and protect a disturbed man, Martin Talbot, who may be harmed by the husband of a woman who died when Talbot's car collided with theirs after Talbot fell asleep at the wheel. But despite keeping a close tail, things go horribly wrong.
It's a lazy mid-August Sunday afternoon. The nameless detective and his old friend Lieutenant Eberhardt are relaxing on the patio, drinking beer and shooting the breeze, when the doorbell rings. As Eberhardt answers the door, the detective hears two sharp echoing reports - gunshots; they could only be gunshots.
His name was Roy Sands, and he had everything to look forward to. He was getting out of the service and coming home to marry his beautiful fiancée. He had his debts paid, money in the bank, and a happy new life ahead of him. Then he disappeared.
In his first chronicled adventure, the Nameless Detective hires on to handle the ransom payoff in a kidnapping case. Financier Louis Martinetti doesn't trust the police to deal with the man who snatched his 9-year-old son from his military prep school, nor is it clear that he trusts the members of his own household. On the appointed evening, Nameless takes a briefcase that contains $300,000 in cash to a secluded location chosen by the kidnapper. Then all hell breaks loose.