This vicious tale of Atlantic City mobster mayhem spins like a Ferris wheel gone haywire, clenching readers' stomachs into knots as tight as its plot. Anthony Russo is busting his chops to eke out an honest living and escape the family crime ring, but devoted step-clad Vincent (Vin) has big plans for him. Even though Anthony's not Sicilian, Vin thinks he can rise through the ranks if he'll just buckle down and learn to kill. Anthony's nut-crunching uncle-in-law Teddy, to whom he owes at least $60K, disagrees; Anthony's worthless. So the gluttonous small-potato crime boss of a shrinking territory issues an ultimatum: If Anthony doesn't pay up within six months, he must work for the mob. Anthony's life careens recklessly toward hell, taking readers along for a wild ride. His wife is a henpecking mall-rat, pregnant with child number three; when he's forced to make a hit, his barroom-wrestler mistress finds out and uses it as leverage; Vin and Teddy are nagging him to get his act together; and the only legit business he can find that might rake in cash quickly is boxing. But the boxer he backs is a middle-aged has-been whose training and extraneous fees suck money like a black hole, pulling Anthony deeper into debt and trouble. Everybody demands a piece of the action -- the boxer, his brother, a myriad of shady boxing officials, the mistress -- until there's almost nothing left, and when Teddy finds out that Anthony is dealing without his permission, things get really ugly. As in the Edgar-winning Slow Motion Riot (1992), Blauner couples suspenseful crime scenes with a contemplative examination of the hero's character: Anthony's college-educated angst, his troubled relationship with Vin, and his frustrated attempts to make good all ring true. A bloody crime thriller with a human touch.