Called to the scene of go-go dancer Ronnie Lynn's beating death, Chicago detective Joe Kiley and his partner, Nick Bianco, find a nasty lead: Tony, the boyfriend the victim was slated to meet, has the same name as Tony Touhy, kid brother of North Side mobster Phil Touhy, a silent partner in the club where she worked. Joe and Nick decide to follow up on their own instead of sharing the lead with the not-deeply-interested homicide boys. Joe would've played it a lot differently if he'd known that Nick would get killed during an unauthorized stakeout of Tony Touhy...and if he'd known that Tony didn't really kill Ronnie. By the time he figures out all that, though, it's too late to pull out of his bulldog quest to sink the Touhy brothers--for Nick's murder if not for Ronnie's--even though higher-ups on the force are screaming at him to stop. He gets reassigned to the Bomb and Arson squad (and goes after an inoffensive bomber whose case will tie into Nick's murder in a satisfyingly unexpected way); the one cop who takes his side ends up dead; and he ought to have his hands full between Nick's widow Stella, whom he's long lusted after, and Ronnie's sister Alma, who lusts after him. A gritty handling of all the usual suspects. Jack-of-all- crimes Howard (Love's Blood, 1993, etc.) takes full advantage of the fact that, since his hero isn't a series character, anything could happen to him--right down to the quietly inconclusive ending.