A ho-hum heist of food stamps (food stamps?) from a midwestern printing plant erupts in a string of firecracker violence when one of the principals decides to double-cross the hired help. Mackin (no first name), the nerveless pro brought in from Kansas City to supervise the actual break-in, is mad because Pointy Williams, the local up-and-comer who set up the score, has given him a hot car for his drive to the airport and tipped off a pair of crooked cops that he's on his way out. The local law is mad because Mackin's escaped by killing both of the cops (``The worst cop killing in the city's history,'' thinks Sgt. Milos Petrone, who ain't seen nothing yet). Pointy Williams is mad because the white dude didn't get killed the way he was supposed to, and it's a cinch that he's going to be back with both barrels blazing. All the other local gangsters are mad because Mackin's thirst for revenge is bound to disrupt the smooth operation of the city's crime rings. And Malcolm Barrett, about to be released from a jail several hours away, is mad because Williams just killed his brother in an unrelated episode. When feelings run this high among an immense cast ranging from FBI types on the brink of retirement to gangland chauffeurs itching to retire their fading capos, you can be sure that a lot of somebodies are going to get killed—especially when Mackin, flushed by his success in robbing and shooting up Williams's restaurant, Ma Rainey's, while it's filled with terrified customers, decides to make it two for two with a plan to torch a Williams hot-car warehouse. Too many cooks, but Quinn's cheeky, knowing debut novel already shows some of Elmore Leonard's smooth moves. First of a series featuring the surviving players.
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