In Back Spin, sports agent Myron Bolitar is called on to investigate the kidnapping of Chad Coldren, son of two professional golfers, while Chad's father Jack is well on his way to winning the U.S. Open. Myron is drawn into a plot that goes back to the last time Jack Coldren nearly won the U.S. Open, twenty-three years ago. Myron's investigations suddenly shift when Jack Coldren is murdered and Chad is released. Finally, Myron traces the murder to Jack's wife Linda, who shot him because he could not succumb to the kidnappers' real demands, that he throw the U.S. Open.
As the story opens, Myron is attending the U.S. Open. Jack Coldren is unexpectedly leading, and promising newcomer Tad Crispin is in second place. Jack's wife Linda, a professional golfer as well, asks Myron for help. Their son has been kidnapped. Jack agrees to help, even though his friend and business associate Win refuses to assist because Linda is his first cousin, related to Win's estranged mother. The kidnappers phone twice without making specific demands. Meanwhile, Myron learns that Chad used his ATM card at a cash machine near a sleazy motel. At first, Myron suspects that Chad might be pulling a hoax, but he soon learns that one of the kidnappers is a neo-Nazi thug.
Slowly, Myron uncovers possible suspects. Jack's former caddy, who Jack blamed for his loss at the U.S. Open years ago, has disappeared. He's possibly committed suicide, but he could be out for revenge. Esme Fong has signed Tad Crispin as a spokesman for a new line of golf clothes, and if Jack loses, her ad campaign will be a success. Chad's best friend's father is a rich crook, and Jack has a mysterious argument with his female caddy.
The kidnappers send Chad's severed finger to Linda, and Myron is horrified. Then, he tracks down the neo-Nazi and finds that he's been murdered. The next thing Myron knows, Jack has been murdered, too. Then, the kidnappers release Chad, leaving Myron with unanswered questions. Jack's wife Linda is arrested, and her lawyer makes Myron an attorney of record to protect her.
Myron learns that Esme is really Lloyd Rennart's daughter from his first marriage, and she kidnapped Chad to make sure Jack lost the U.S. Open. After Tito, the neo-Nazi, cut off Chad's finger, Esme killed him. Myron turns Esme over to the police. Myron realizes that there's more to the story, though. Jack knew that the kidnappers wanted him to lose the U.S. Open, but he kept winning anyway. When his wife Linda found out, she killed him to save her son. As Linda's attorney, Myron can't go to the police, and Linda will likely never be brought to justice for her husband's murder.