Stan Gifford is a popular comedian. Popular, that is, to the 80 million pairs of eyes that tune into his show every Wednesday night. He is not popular with the staff of his show, not his head writer, not his wardrobe matron, not his long-suffering producer. So when Stan drops dead in front those 80 million eyes, his doctor rushes to the studio and tells Detective Meyer Meyer of the 87th Precinct that an autopsy may be in order. Turns out Gifford was poisoned. For Meyer and Carella, it’s a few days of frustration as everyone trips over themselves to make sure they aren’t suspects.
Meanwhile, Bert Kling investigates an assault on a familiar face. Cynthia Forrest, whose father was killed by the same sniper that killed Kling’s fiancee, is not thrilled to see who the 87th sent to track down her stalker. Nonetheless, the stalker has beat up a fellow officer. Kling decides to draw him out as he seems to think he’s Cynthia’s new boyfriend. The stalker manages to attack Cynthia, putting her in the hospital.
Around the time Kling draws him out, Meyer and Carella figure out how a fast acting poison no one saw Gifford take killed him in front of a nationwide audience.
It’s an interesting 87th. Kling is not so dark in this one. Indeed, in the previous 87th Precinct novel, he was nearly kicked off the force. Meyer and Carella are involved in one of McBain’s favorite gambits, a classic whodunnit.