It's a lucky thing for p.i. Bill Smith that he's got construction experience; it's a perfect cover for him to get close to masonry foreman Joe Romeo--who's suspected of bookmaking, mob connections, and a lot worse--at the same time that he's keeping an eye on the suspicious series of accidents at the new 40-story apartment building that's rising at Broadway and 99th. In no time at all Bill's succeeded in persuading his partner, Mike DiMaio, that he isn't much of a mason, and he's placed his first off-track bet with Romeo. But don't count on his collecting very soon, since Romeo promptly joins missing crane operator Lenny Pelligrini and mortar mixer Reg Phillips as the latest casualty of the Armstrong building. At the same time that Bill's turning up evidence linking the cycle of violence to Louie Falco (mobbed-up childhood friend of Chuck DeMattis, the colleague who hired Bill to go undercover), Bill's partner Lydia Chin, also undercover at the Armstrong site, overhears hints that implicate general contractors Dan Crowell Sr. and Dan Crowell Jr., and take-no-prisoners Denise Armstrong herself points the finger at employment-coalition agitator Chester Hamilton. Is there any builder or subcontractor or unaffiliated lowlife in New York who doesn't have a finger in the Armstrong pie? Despite the epidemic of corruption, Rozan's focus on the tragic Armstrong building makes this the sharpest, clearest, most purposefully focused of her four Smith/Chin mysteries (Mandarin Plaid, 1996, etc.).