It's 1963. Easy Rawlins has given up the street life and is now the supervising custodian of Sojourner Truth High School in Watts. He gets up early and goes off to work. He wears nice clothes and puts all his energy and love into his job and his adopted children. He likes his new life.
But his life changes when Easy comes in early one morning to find one of the teachers already in her classroom. She has her dog with her, and a story about a husband gone mad. Before Easy knows what's happening, the teacher is in his arms. Before the day is over the teacher is gone, leaving Easy with her dog - and a corpse in the school garden.
Easy may have left the streets, but he hasn't been forgotten. The police believe that Easy is involved in the murders. Old enemies are waiting to get even. The principal of the school wants to fire him. His old friends aren't the same, and his new friends might mean his death. A murderer is running loose somewhere. And a little yellow dog plots revenge.