The killing of Lippy Sullivan is only a one-column squib in the morning papers. Lippy was a loser, a pickpocket, and his one claim to fame was an acquaintanceship with Mike Hammer. Was that reason enough for someone to gag, torture and kill him?By the time Mike figures out that the wrong man has been killed, it's nearly too late. Containers of a virulent strain of bacteria have been hidden around the country, and when the canisters explode, there will be no stopping it: no vaccines, no natural barriers - nothing.Each time Mike tracks down a clue, it leads to a dead man, and time is running out . . .