n adult male corpse in a building put, fast-decaying due to added acid, is identified because of a rare surgery as the lading US newspaper crossword author. He was estranged from his wife, had his fingers broken by illegal gambling website bookie Richie Williams, was stalked by his young biographer Emory Stewart and received threats from college study mate Donald McKeon, a less successful colleague, one of whose puzzles was published under the master's name, as turned out because his memory was falling prey to Alzheimer. The late Lance's son, Seeley, is born to Daisy, who soon regrets following the advice of 'doula' (birth coach) Valentina dolefully.

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