A writing contest at the Daily Fluxion with cash prizes prompts Qwill to enter and come up with something good to write about. Qwill would like to do an expose' on the darker side of Junktown, a local neighborhood known for its high density of antique dealers. Arch Riker, Features editor at the Fluxion, however, thinks it doesn't have enough "heart" and strongly suggests he write a lighter series on Junktown, featuring the dealers themselves. Qwill isn't as excited about this idea, but he gets started right away.
His first installment of the series covers an auction of a deceased dealer's stock. Qwill learns that Andrew Glanz took a fatal fall off a ladder and impaled himself on an antique brass finial. He also meets Iris Cobb, co-owner of The Junkery, on of the area's many antique shops.
This acquaintance with Iris Cobb leads to an offer of an affordable apartment for rent above The Junkery. Said apartment used to belong to Andy Glanz before he died, but as Qwill isn't squeamish about those things, and as he has been strongly encouraged to move himself and his cats out of the ratty old hotel that has been his recent home, he gathers up his belongings and settles in.
Qwill soon learns that Junktown encompasses the extravagant antiques (sold at Mary Duckworth's Blue Dragon shop) to the ordinary (supplied by just about everyone else). They even have a shop that focuses on "TechTiques."
A popular way of acquiring new merchandise for their shops (aside from selling among themselves) is to go scrounging, which is basically raiding condemned houses before they're destroyed to grab the salvageable stuff. One night, Iris' husband, C.C. Cobb, goes out scrounging and never returns. Turns out he knows something he shouldn't and had to be silenced.
Small seemingly insignificant clues, such as footprints in the dust of the condemned house C.C. was killed in and the shape the snow where a car had been lead Qwill to the killer of both Andy and C.C.