Benny Cooperman, the working-stiff private eye who Donald Westlake says is a lot of fun to hang out with, is back, this time trying to sort out the kerfuffle surrounding the plumbing, a dead old woman, and a crooked politician. It all starts with a noisy toilet. Benny's janitor, Kogan, is preoccupied with the death of his elderly girlfriend, Lizzy Oldridge, who appears to have starved to death. Benny agrees to attend the inquest if Kogan will look into the plumbing.
Lizzy may have died hungry, but she had plenty of money, and somehow former alderman and mayoralty candidate Thurleigh Ramsden, an unsavory character if there ever was one, has gained control of it. Ramsden escapes the inquest with his reputation untarnished, but Benny finds himself hopelessly enmeshed in the posthumous troubles of Kogan's late love. By the end of this twisting, turning tale, the body count has increased alarmingly - but what's happened with the plumbing?