Saxophonist Match Margolis’s comeback bid ends when he’s stabbed to death at a sweet concert.
Private eye Ronnie Ventana (Sunset and Santiago, 1997, etc.), a big Margolis fan, drags her ex-boxer friend Blackie Coogan down to the Riff Club to hear what Match still has after kicking a 15-year heroin habit. Sure enough, his trashy young second wife Sharon has somehow gotten him clean enough to play some great sets with old-timers like Cheese Herman, Les Burton, Hank Nesbit and Rochelle Posner, as well as young Cuban trumpeter Dickie Almaviva. But after his last blue note, Match walks up to Ronnie and croaks. His son Clark starts a rumor spread by nosy reporter Abby Clark that Match whispered his killer’s name into Ronnie’s ear. Besides, Ronnie wants to know who killed her favorite jazzman. So she lets Sharon hire her to investigate. Despite San Francisco’s homicide cop Philly Post’s warning to stay the hell out of his case—and despite her yuppie ex-husband Mitch’s pleas to give up that dangerous detective stuff and house-sit for him out in Marin—she’s soon interviewing Match’s scummy ex-partner (and Sharon’s ex-husband) Sig Malone, dapper dwarf Nick DuPont and serene Buddha Teagues to see who might have wanted to silence Match’s sax for good.
Underhanded clients and over-amped prose sprinkle Ronnie’s fight for truth and justice with sour notes.