Leuci's first police procedural set away from N.Y.C. (where he served as a cop for 20 years: Captain Butterfly, Odessa Beach, etc.) turns out to be his best--an acrid, tangled tale of a cop's hunt for a crazed killer among the high and low of the nation's capital. Scott Ancelet, 40, is the D.C. detective who swears to get the ""beast"" who cut the throat of an unidentified teenage male prostitute, then masturbated on the body and left it in a local park. Aided by his partner, ""Big Mo"" Parks, Scott turns for clues to his main snitch, Cotton Mouth Johnson, an aging hooker-turned-crack-dealer/addict. Cotton can tell Scott little, but her pathetic, doomed struggle to escape a sadistic drug kingpin (to whom she owes money--the story's major subplot) compellingly burrows the action down into D.C.'s criminal underworld, detailed with a stinging grit that contrasts well with the upscale splendors enjoyed by beautiful black councilwoman Tamron Highseat and her husband, Philip--who finally identify the victim as Tamron's no-good nephew. Scott, a cop who lives on the edge--smoking and wenching his way into major heart trouble--instantly falls in lust for Tamron, even as Big Mo falls compassionately in love with Cotton. Amidst this smoky intrigue, violence flares out in a second, blackly comic subplot involving a pot dealer whose wife harpoons a rookie detective--and then the intrigue rushes back, denser still, as Scott follows the killer's trail into a den of pedophiles headed by Philip Highseat and a politically powerful contra general--and into an ultraviolent climax. Despite the familiar cast--the burned-out cop, the gold-hearted whore, etc.--a fast and nasty tale, told in snappy prose and reeking with the hard truths and stink of the streets.