Chicago private eye V. I. Warshawski knows from the start that Consuelo Alvarado's baby is going to be trouble. Consuelo is sixteen, a diabetic, and the daughter of a friend. When she goes into labor too early, even V. I.'s wild drive to get her to the hospital can't save either Consuelo or her child. Soon V. I. is investigating possible malpractice at the emergency room, and falling for a doctor who works there.