Detectives Goren and Eames investigate the murder of a male stock analyst found shot to death while strolling with his infant child in Central Park.
At first, the detectives learn that the married victim was having a clandestine affair with another married man, but when they confront the other married man, he has an alibi during the time of the killing. Then a female corporate executive is murdered in the park under similar circumstances: her young child was with her on the night she was murdered, just like the case with the man’s young son, abandoned in a stroller close to the body of the victim. Ballistics confirmed both victims were killed by the same gun, and more interestingly, the detectives discover both victims were close personal friends and had extensive contact with one another -- he had analyzed her company, and that the two of them benefitted from the analyst's sole favorable stock upgrade.
Then a third body appears, far removed from Central Park, and even further removed from any Wall Street intrigue. Once again, another young single mother of an toddler, was the target. The ballistics again match. The person who killed the first two, also killed her. Although her ex-husband had a penchant for violence, Goren and Eames are more intrigued with the decision to enroll her daughter in an exclusive preschool in the Upper East Side, a great distance from her home in Far Rockaway. As the detectives explore the school’s long waiting list, they find that the first victim tried to curry favor with an influential preschool board member by issuing the favorable stock upgrade before his murder. His reward was that his young son would jump to the top of the waiting list for entry into the school. It soon becomes clear that the wait list for the prestigious preschool is looking more and more like a ‘hit-list’. Goren and Eames turn their attention to a family who was with him on the night he was murdered in the park.
Eleanor Reynolds is matriarch of the Reynolds clan and quite demanding and contemptuous of people, including her daughter-in-law, Marla Reynolds, a lowly waitress, whom she feels, suckered her architect son into marriage. Eleanor had already made plans even before her grandchild was born, how her grandchild was to be raised, even the prestigious preschool that would be attended. Marla can't seem to please her mother-in-law and blames herself when the child is put on the preschool's waiting list, notwithstanding her mother-in-law's ceaseless contempt of her. Marla starts killing the parents of the other children who already have spots or on the waiting list at the prestigious preschool in order to improve the possibility of her child in being accepted into that prestigious preschool. She also plants the gun in her mother-in-law's purse in order to frame Eleanor for the murders. Ultimately the detectives confront the distraught Marla who has taken the children and staff hostage at the preschool.