Cincinnati Eagle reporter Rick Decker can remember the days when his newspaper chased after real stories and not-to cite his latest assignment-gossip about the Hollywood starlet in town. His frustration at work hasn't helped his faltering relationship with Dr. Janet Shoemaker, a resident at the local teaching hospital.
But then Decker gets a hot tip from Janet that someone in Cincinnati has died of bubonic plague-known as the Black Death in the Middle Ages-and his career and love life take off in surprising, and dangerous, new directions.
The first victim of what threatens to be an epidemic is a Navaho elder who had come all the way from Arizona in answer to a cryptic letter for help from someone named Little Bear. The next to succumb is the Glad Man, a homeless man who wore garbage bags around his body.
With the help (and increasing attentions) of Angie Lapola, a cub reporter with a punked-out wardrobe, Decker's investigation leads to a baffling network of abandoned subway and bootlegging tunnels below the city's historic Over-the-Rhine Brewery District.
The rats there are poised to spread the disease, placing the city on high alert. But Decker discovers that not all the rats are underground. The human variety can be found in the city's politics.
Jim DeBrosse leads Decker through a dual labyrinth of tunnels and criminal connections, where the final encounter is with the horror of plague itself, in what Publishers Weekly called his latest "well-plotted whodunit in the Raymond Chandler-Ross Macdonald tradition."
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