A killer with a novelist's touch wants Hoagy to be his editor.
The author calls himself the Answer Man. He introduces himself to Stewart Hoag — onetime literary darling of the New York scene — with a letter begging for help with his first novel. Hoagy usually ignores such requests, but the Answer Man's sample chapter grabs his attention. It is a chilling, first-person story about a man who picks up a girl in a pet shop, takes her home, and savagely murders her. The imagery is clear, the prose strong, and the storytelling as truthful as though the author had actually lived it. When he opens the next morning's paper, Hoagy realizes he was reading nonfiction.
A young pet shop employee has been bludgeoned to death, and the crime's details match those in the manuscript. As the Answer Man keeps killing, he continues writing letters asking Hoagy to collaborate with him. If Hoagy can't stop him soon, he may find himself starring in the book's next chapter.