When the chronology's all sorted out, it looks like this. First, Desmond Bacon, a.k.a. the Toddler, Ireland's premier druglord, stands by and watches as his Bookends, the Hyde brothers, shove Gavin O'Reilly under the wheels of a Dublin bus. (There's talk that Toddler's already plumped up his formidable murder tally by defenestrating traveling musician Paddy McDonagh, but no more of that.) The murder's witnessed by Biddy Nevins, the illiterate, artistically gifted Queen of the Buskers, who hies her family away from Toddler's goons, but not fast enough. Six months later, Eithne Carruthers returns from a vacation to find the skeleton of Mickalou Maugham, Biddy's King, naked and chained to the upper limbs of a soaring old tree on her estate. The next person to die is Toddler's driver Archie Carruthers, who made the arrangements for Mickalou's final resting place. Then the Bookends are killed: one, two, so. And when Chief Supt. Peter McGarr (The Death of an Irish Sea Wolf, 1996, etc.) leans on Cornelius Duggan, Toddler's bent solicitor, to roll over on his boss, Duggan vanishes like smoke. With so many loose ends neatly snipped off, how do you like Biddy Nevins's chances of survival when the tale fades back in after 12 miraculously uneventful years? Considering the elevated body count, Toddler never does seem all that threatening. Maybe it's feisty Biddy, who arms herself more heavily than any clay pigeon; maybe it's the lilt in his language, which makes music of every fatality.