Just after devastating riots tear through Los Angeles in 1965, the police turn up on Easy Rawlins's doorstep. Easy expects the worst - but they've come for his to ask for his help.
A man was wrenched from his car by a mob at the riots' peak and escaped into a nearby apartment building. Soon afterwards, a redheaded woman known as Little Scarlet was found dead in the same building. The fleeing man is the obvious suspect but he has vanished. The police fear that their presence in certain neighbourhoods could spark a new inferno, so now they want Easy and his longtime friend Mouse to investigate. What they find is a killer whose rage echoes the passions that have burned in the city for weeks.