Suffering from the skin disease psoriasis and a crippling arthritis, detective novelist Dan Dark is in such pain in a hospital that he begins to delve into fantasy, resulting in several story-lines told simultaneously: A film noir based on Dark's novel, The Singing Detective, in which a nightclub singer/private eye, hired by Mark Binney, takes on a strange case involving prostitutes and two mysterious men. Nothing is ever solved from this, only a vague plot. Notably, all of the people in the film noir are played by people who are real people in Dark's life; for example, Dark's nurse plays a singer. The present reality, in which Dark is tormented by incredible pain. Dark interacts with the various people around him, as the doctors and nurses attempt to help, but are dismissed by Dark's anger and bitterness towards everyone. The reality, however, also collapses into hallucinations, as the people randomly sing choreographed musical numbers, such as "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?" Dark's traumatic childhood in the past, which explains Dark's repulsion toward sexuality (Dark had watched his mother have sex with another man), and his anger.