Brian McNulty tends bar at Oscar's, a modest watering hole at Broadway and 108th Street, on the ragged frontier of Manhattan's trendy Upper West Side. As he freely admits, Brian drinks too much, sleeps too late, spends too little time with his teenaged son Kevin, dabbles in drugs, and takes home the occasional female barfly. Foremost among these is Angelina, a winsome aspiring actress and singer who, like Brian, dallies sexually with a handful of regulars at Oscar's. One night Angelina leaves Oscar's with jazzman Danny Stone after singing a set with his band. The next morning, her corpse is found in Riverside Park. Brian covers for Danny but isn't entirely convinced of his friend's innocence. He suspects, in fact, that Angelina was killed by a regular, maybe hefty middle-aged Reuben, her spurned lover; computer nerd Nigel; hard-drinking writer Carl; gentle Ozzie; good-time girl Betsy; or eponymous Oscar. After Angelina's sister Janet, a yuppie Massachusetts banker, shows up at Oscar's, asking questions, Brian agrees to help her informal investigation, though the more immediate improvement is to her sex life. Both sleuthing and loving turn into rocky affairs, since elitist Janet often seems merely to use aimless Brian for her own ends. The murder of Ozzie, however, gives their inquiries new urgency. A childhood link between Angelina and one of these suspects ices the case.
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