Paul Benjamin is a CPA in New York City and lifelong liberal. However, his staid life is overturned when his daughter, Carol, and spouse, Esther, are attacked by muggers. His wife does not survive the attack, and his daughter is left in a traumatized state. Forced to reevaluate his views, Benjamin becomes paranoid and eager for vengance. After a trip to Arizona, a friend gives him a revolver as a gift. Benjamin shoots a mugger who accosts him. Benjamin continues to take justice into his own hands, drawing would-be muggers into traps by using himself as the bait. In one case, he rents a car, pulls it over to the side of the road, and writes an "Out of Gas" sign on the vehicle. He then hides, waiting for someone to steal the car. When some lawbreakers do so, he shoots them. It is only within the last fifty pages of the first novel that Benjamin slays his first victim.