This down-and-dirty roman noir lays on the nastiness thick--those who aren't legally guilty of anything may as well be, since no one survives this L.A. intrigue unscathed, and everyone pays sooner or later. The narrator, Nick Gardner, a successful ad photographer with a house in Malibu and a Lamborghini, is a man with a past. Years ago, under the name Nicholas Bracken, he worked as a ""shooter,"" a cameraman for porno films. Inadvertently, he lensed a snuff film, with a victim whose identity now comes to haunt him. Cynical about advertising, women, and everything else, Nick wakes up one night after a serious bout of sex and drugs with a drop-dead gorgeous ""classic coke whore"" to discover that her decapitated body's been found in the dumpster by his house. Quickly booked, and abandoned by most of his so-called friends, Nick decides to investigate for himself, which means dredging up a past he'd rather forget. His quest takes him back into the adult film world, no longer underground now but a big business out in the Valley, where his old partner, David Rink, runs a huge operation and still holds a grudge against Nick for fleeing to Europe after their involvement in the fatal film. Things take a gruesome turn when a videotape of the murder of Nick's crackhead gal-pal arrives at his house; her executioner, it turns out, does bear a resemblance to Nick. Everything is part of an (improbably) elaborate plan to avenge Nick's involvement in that long-ago video, and when the cops re-arrest him, Nick figures that it's only right he should be punished. There's no redemption here, but just an acknowledgment that life stinks. It should come as no surprise that this trendy bit of hard-core nihilism has already been sold to the movies.