Peter Frangello, duly diagnosed as sociopathic before his first date, finishes his latest stretch of hard time determined to go straight. If only he knew. The first twist Fate has in store for Pete is a threatening pair of fellow-lodgers at the Hell's Kitchen shelter he's been sent to. By the time his business with them is complete (before the clock has struck 12 on his first day out), he's looking at a minimum of six weeks in the Tombs. The second twist is Eddie Conte, former leader of Pete's crew in prison, who's got a slot all lined up for Pete in the armored-car heist he's planning. (Pete's unenviable job: to mind trigger-happy killer Tony Morasso, keeping him happy, cowed, and out of jail until he's in a position to ask the guard inside the armored car to please open the door. Pete rises to this challenge by doling out heroin to Tony.) Finding to his amazement that Ginny Michkin, the girl he left behind, has been waiting for him ever since they turned the key, Pete doesn't want to have anything to do with Eddie's job. But he has no choice because of another twist: The shelter thugs have ratted him out to a pair of sadistic cops who are determined to get him to roll over on Eddie and the rest of his crew. So it's the familiar story of a put-upon guy getting squeezed between crooked cops and his equally unsavory chums, with everybody so willing to shoot that you know it'll be a miracle if the narrator survives to the last page. But the pseudonymous Cray, a.k.a. Stephen Solomita (Last Chance for Glory, 1994, etc.), writes with a determined toughness, conveying Pete's hallucinatory sense of the world outside the joint as just a bigger version of the lockdown. As grimly exciting as The Asphalt Jungle, though Pete is a lot less interesting than the problems his nasty buddies pose.