Young, well-intentioned, introverted, intellectual, and socially inept, Tedmund "Ted" Strickland moves from Upstate New York to New York City. There he attends university, earns a degree in finance, and lands a plum job with a brokerage firm. He unwittingly finds himself flung into social circles he'd never willingly have entered. He had been bullied as a youth, and now manipulated as an adult.
Unexpectedly, Ted receives a call from a woman he once had a crush on, the heiress Violet Naysmyth Hunter. Violet, whose husband is a poor boy from The Bronx who made good, is less than a year married. She confides in Ted about her plan to start a family. Within an hour or so of their conversation, Violet is found murdered in her Manhattan town house.
Lieutenant Paton and Detective Ramirez of the NYPD are determined to apprehend Violet's killer. The crime scene shows no signs of a break-in, giving rise to the theory that the victim knew her killer. Violet's husband, cousins, servants, and friends either have a plausible alibi or lack a motive. Yet the victim and the suspects all have secrets. Further, to Paton's and Ramirez's astonishment, everything connects back to Ted.
After Ted finds himself a person of interest in the death of Violet, he plots his next moves carefully. Paton and Ramirez realize they must be meticulous if they are to bring Violet's killer to justice.