With an audit going on at Bellehaven's Public Library, it couldn't be a worse time for librarian Helma Zukas to be serving a sentence of fifty hours of community service. But Miss Zukas stubbornly refused to pay what she thought to be an unjust traffic fine and now she's doing time at the Promise Mission for Homeless Men-ladling soup and clearing tables for a motley group of ungrateful down-and-outers. When Helma discovers there's a rash of thefts going on at the mission, she's appalled. Add to that, the unannounced visit of a high school flame who intends to win her hand, and Helma's ready to run to the auditors for relief. But none of that can compare to the shock when, during the first night of her service, a body is found just outside the mission's back door. Suddenly in the wake of a heartless homicide, Helma becomes one of the suspects, and her fifty hours of service are looming like a life sentance. Fortunately for the otherwise law-abiding librarian, her gaudy, bawdy good friend Ruth is close at hand to help her solve the case... before she ends up doing hard time in a much worse place than the mission house.