With his days as Al Rosek's replacement bartender numbered by the return of Rosek's regular man, Pittsburgh gumshoe Carroll Dorsey finds himself getting pulled back into investigative work by old Mrs. Leneski, who's convinced that neighborhood junkies have made off with her granddaughter, Maritsa Durant, missing for two months. Maritsa's troubles have their start close to home, since her father, Teddy Durant, is so strung out on dope that the girl had been living with her grandmother. Those troubles go much deeper, though, as Dorsey realizes when he searches Teddy's filthy rooms and finds one of Maritsa's favorite books with her place marked by a prescription blank from Dr. Anton Novotny, the local candy man and connoisseur of young females. But even Novotny, a postwar German refugee as ageless as a vampire, pales beside the corruption of Dorsey's own father, the Pittsburgh politico, lately toppled by a stroke, whose calamitous legacy is far outliving his power. Dorsey's scrabble among the maggots is unrelieved by any glimmer of hope: Even his sex life, as he bounces back and forth between his keep-your-distance lover Dr. Gretchen Keller and pushy cop Janice Manning (whose romantic overture is ``What would you say to an offer of getting laid?'') is a downer. Even darker than Dorsey's grim debut, The Fall-Down Artist (1994): perfect reading material for one of those rainy days you wish would go on forever.
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