Disillusioned with both the legal system and his private life, criminal attorney Ben Kincaid abandons his practice for a less stressful pastime: playing with a combo at Uncle Earl's Jazz Emporium. The musician's life is bliss - until a corpse crashes through the ceiling with a grisly smile carved on its face.
The body is that of "Cajun Lily" Campbell, legendary singer and onetime girlfriend of club owner Earl Bonner. The cops are convinced that Bonner killed her - and Kincaid knows he didn't. Though he swore he was through with law forever, Kincaid descends into an underworld of gangs, drugs, Internet sex "clubs," and long-standing vendettas. And at the bottom, a killer waits, targeting Kincaid as the next to die with a smile on his face.