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Synopsis

Neville Shepherd Ladderback, the Philadelphia Press's "old, dusty" obituary writer, is researching accountant Paul Small, a city legend in all things dealing with money, who was beaten to death with his own cane. Finding it hard to get a straight story, Ladderback is surprised when Andrea "Andy" Cosicki, the voice behind the "Mr. Action" question-and-answer column, provides him with a key lead. But as each reporter searches for the "nut," or defining element, in their stories, they find that this exchange is just the beginning in a series of startling discoveries.

News of Paul Small's death brings back Andy's best friend, Lucia; her mother had been involved with the dead man. The young women's reunion is interrupted by a violent confrontation with members of an Asian gang at a restaurant owned by Angelo Delise, the father of Lucia's friend Cece, who was raped and murdered years ago in the Asian immigrant sector of the city. The gang members were trying to get Delise's safe but failed, overpowered by Lucia's skill in the martial arts. Andy can see how Cece's death still haunts Lucia and she vows to find out the true story.

Ladderback's and Andy's investigations keep leading them back to the Pickle Factory, which used to be a warehouse crowded with illegal Asian immigrants but was later developed into luxury lofts by Small's nonprofit veterans organization. Did Small make promises he couldn't keep?

Community tension rides high in this third mystery from Bill Kent, an author who is well acquainted with the vibrant characters who live, and die, in gritty South Philly.

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