Stanley Bentworth is not all that tough. Previously a homicide cop, he drank his way out of a job and now runs a one-man private eye agency finding people who don’t want to be found. He doesn’t accept tough-guy assignments, calling himself a “soft-boiled detective,” but a recession is on, and business is off, so when a wealthy financier, formerly a mob enforcer, needs an anonymous blackmailer found in a life and death situation, Stanley seizes the chance to earn a fee.
If he fails, the blackmailer outs his client to the wise guys, in which case the client gets a one-way ticket to the landfill, and Stanley risks becoming an unwilling passenger on that ride.
He knows he must not fail, no small feat given that Stanley Bentworth is not all that tough.