A gay man’s murder leads Hastings to a blackmail plot Charles Hardaway climbs the hill to his house, immediately missing the bright lights and conversation of the bar and dreading the return to his lover, who is slowly dying of AIDS. But Hardaway’s self-pity is interrupted by a pipe-wielding stranger, who crushes his skull before slipping away. It’s nighttime in the Castro, and another gay man has been sent to his grave. Homicide lieutenant Frank Hastings is tempted to write the killing off as another heinous instance of gay-bashing, but witnesses say the killer was alone, and seemed to know the victim. Digging into Hardaway’s past, Hastings finds evidence that he was a blackmailer who pushed one of his targets to the breaking point. In a neighborhood where disease and hatred claim more and more lives every day, it seems one man has been done in by plain old-fashioned greed.