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LAPD Detective Carlos Aguilar must apprehend a serial killer who's terrorizing employees and tenants of a housing project that occupies valuable land wanted for a huge development purpose.
The problem facing future real estate developers in contemporary Los Angeles is that available land large enough for a major development is rare, expensive, and difficult to find. Driven by greed, a ruthless real estate developer, who wants the land along Sultan Road, pushes homeowners out of their homes, and kills anyone who stands in his way.
Detective Aguilar is sent to investigate a body found in the bushes near an office building north of Harbor City, California. Aguilar is a tough minded, former Middleweight boxer, who is soft spoken and speaks in a low monotone. He's a well-seasoned homicide detective who has worked many cases involving gruesome killings. Early on, he determines that the single murder he is investigating has a much wider plot behind it, and a cover up, that may be directed from somebody in high office, is in play. Although hampered by his supervisor, he won't give up on the prospect that the serial killer he's after was hired to cause the terror needed to shake the trees and provide the benefactor with his prize.
Aguilar has a good working relationship with a millennial reporter from the main Los Angeles newspaper working on his first crime story. The reporter digs up and shares enough information to put Aguilar on the path to unraveling the cover up.
Known only as "El Puma", the serial killer in the story is a cunning hit man from deep south Mexico, where he worked for one of the drug cartels in the area. He uses the cover of a political refugee, and is handled by a disgraced former police officer on the payroll of an organized crime outfit disguised as a community security service. Each killing he performs is managed differently and masked to look like a random act. He usually strikes like his namesake, the puma, that leaps on his prey from an ambush.
Aguilar is alerted to the presence in the area of a hired killer by one of his gang contacts. "El Puma" is elusive, and gives Aguilar and his partner a very difficult time in identifying and locating him. During one encounter, the crafty killer and his handler create a diversion which leads to a gunfight enabling them to evade arrest. When the handler is apprehended separately, he finally decides to help Aguilar find "El Puma".