Four young children of the Philips family are abandoned by their step mother. Since their father had already died, they are alone. The children have been accustomed to this and are very independent. They do exceptionally well in school and are hesitant to ask for help because they are afraid they will be placed in foster homes.
Nick Banks is a new employee at the pizza parlor in the neighborhood and helps Meg with food when she doesn't have sufficient funds.
A young boy is found dead from drugs. Homicide detectives John Potocki and Colleen Greer are assigned to investigate. With the case involving drugs, they are temporarily assigned to the Narcotics Division. They suspect that the pizza parlor might be a front for drug activity and want Colleen to go under cover and check things with Nick.
Nick is a former con and he is under pressure to help drug dealers but when something happens, he proves that he is basically a good person. He refuses to do a wrong thing and as a result is injured.
What happens is that Nick and the Phillips children connect in a way that is tender to read and exceptionally well done. Meg Phillips and her brother are the type of characters that readers will enjoy and remember.
I found the plot to be engaging and suspenseful. It also gave an understanding of drugs in the inner city and how easily it is for children to fall under the spell of drugs and for other children to remain free from drugs and lead a clean life.