The police finds a dead woman in painter Strong's apartment: tied up and maltreated as in a ritual murder. Strong has disappeared. During the search for him the investigating detective Keaton meets his wife Abbey Jane. She states her husband would suffer from delusions. Keaton is fascinated and falls in love with her. But then new evidence turns up that incriminates Abbey...
Meyer gives us Harry Hamlin as a slobby detective in charge of the case, who is unshaven - Hamlin's superior tells him he dresses "like a mechanic" - and presumably depressed after the death of his son and end of his marriage. This information, unfortunately, doesn't feed into the style of the murder, but rather allows Hamlin to indulge in a lazy performance that includes a tough guy hiss, which de-energizes the film. Hamlin's unprofessionalism leads him into an affair with the wife of the case's top suspect, Joanna Pacula, who is another of a series of accented ladies who pronounce his surname Keaton as "kitten".