Detective Joe Leland is called to the home of a murder victim who has been beaten to death and has had his genitals removed. Puzzled and, at the same time, disgusted by the killing, the police on call are left bemused, Leland holding things together with his direct, no-nonsense approach.
Few leads and clues are found, other than the fact that a house-mate of the victim remains conspicuous by his absence, all the while notions about the victims sexuality and personal interests soon warp the ideals of the officers assigned to the task. Leyland tries to overlook this and remain focused on the case whilst, at the same time, struggling after the break-down of his marriage to wife Karen Leyland.
The trail soon points Leyland towards a local gym where one Felix Tesla, the victims house-mate, who is soon tracked down by Leland and his partner. Held for questioning Tesla gives nothing away until Leyland tries his approach, breaking Tesla down and coaxing a confession out of him, which results in a promotion for Leyland and the electric chair for Tesla.
Meanwhile, across town, a man kills himself by jumping from the top of a building at the race-track. The case goes unnoticed until the wife of the dead man, Norma McIver, starts asking questions. The case soon comes to Leyland, who wonders if the man's death is linked to the previous murder, now questioning whether Tesla was the wrong man and the confession gotten out of fear borne out of his sexuality, not guilt.
As Leyland delves deeper, he soon finds that there's more to this case than meets the eye, and that both the suicide and murder cases are linked in several ways.