Lehane follows up his Shamus-winning A Drink Before the War (1994) with a second case for the private-detective team of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Dimassi Gennaro. This time, Patrick and Angel are called on to defend a psychologist against some nasty members of the Boston Irish criminal community. Although the threat appears to be forestalled, a budding young actress from the old neighborhood is found murdered, and is later strangely implicated in the torture and death of the psychologist's son. Multiple crimes follow with the lethal signature of a long-jailed sociopath, a cop's son reared on those same mean streets. Panic sets in. The FBI commandeers the case. Angle finally divorces her abusive husband as Patrick struggles to protect his lover and her daughter from the murderer. But domestic difficulties pale as the increasingly terrifying wave of violence seems to point toward long-hidden secrets in Boston's Irish-American community, and motives (a long dance of betrayal and revenge among Irish cops and crooks) reach out from one generation to destroy the next. Though there's an unseemly lack of subtlety to Lehane's sex scenes and violent set pieces, the passion of his neighborhood nightmare can hardly be denied. And he's created a villain who's both surprising and grimly fascinating: The kind of figure one hates but can't stop reading about.