Paul's best effort since The Renewable Virgin pits N.Y.P.D.'s solid, honest Lieutenant James Murtaugh against Pluto, a slick consciencesless hit man who kills on spec, billing the murder's beneficiary after the fact. Victims and those who profit from their demise are carefully chosen, like Leon Walsh, founder and editor of semiliterary Summit magazine, whose majority shareholder Jerry Sussman is killed as he's preparing to sell the mag out from under his partner, or like up-and-coming architect Carolyn Randolph, whose plans for a city project were stolen by crooked William Parminter, a fact proved after Pluto cut him down. Walsh's irresistible impulse to write, under another name, the story of Pluto's bizarre profession, sets Murtaugh on the killers' trail, but his job is hampered by hated superior Captain Ansbacher, an on-the-take bully who rigs a fast case against his lieutenant when he becomes aware that Murtaugh is on to him. Suspended just as Pluto's capture seems imminent, Murtaugh finds himself between a rock and a hard place when Ansbacker is killed and Pluto's bill is rendered. A nit-picking reader might wonder how Pluto, whose social contacts seem severely limited, gathers his mostly inside info, but never mind--plot, pace and people are gripping. . .all the way to the wicked final page.