The rise of sewer inspector Flannery through Chicago's political ranks might be expected to stall with the death of his longtime mentor, Chips Devlin. The old man goes gently, in his bed, with a smile on his old Irish face and possibly after some paid female company; he has bequeathed his Bridgeport house to Flannery, his wife and their baby daughter. The political vacuum left by Devlin's passing is one that disgraced congressman Leo Lundatos would cheerfully fill, with Flannery's help. Meanwhile, two ex-cops, one a recent sex change, are fighting over a prostitution franchise. One of their contested employees, very possibly Devlin's last angel of mercy, dies in a house owned by Lundatos's wife, a perky redhead with an unsettling effect on Flannery.