Thirty years after his salad days in San Francisco's North Beach, Niccol¢ Abruzzi Jones doesn't feel he can join the elders lamenting the breakup of the old Italian neighborhood, especially since he's too busy scrabbling to make a living running errands for one of the small-time Chinese gangsters who've taken over. But Nick's own life is as desolate as his old neighborhood. He still burns with the love he felt for years for his brother Joe's first wife Marie, and with the guilty knowledge that Joe suspected Nick's affair with Marie began before Joe's divorce. Now Joe is dead, shot down on a dull street corner, and Marie is suddenly back in Joe's life. Homicide detective Leanora Chinn thinks Joe, a carpenter with a drug-addled past, was killed when a buy went sour, but Nick, who'd just heard Joe boast about the improbable real-estate deal he was going to swing in the heady company of patrician local attorney Micaeli Romano, figures he'd better look more closely into the case than Lt. Chinn is likely to do. What he finds will take him back to the 1953 assassination of Mussolini's favorite general, back to his family's most shameful secrets, back to the heart of his love and betrayal of Joe. It will also, as Stansberry (The Spoiler, 1987, etc.) emphasizes from the beginning, make him sorry he ever took a closer look. A murky, moody slice of noir, as sad and predictable as the decline of all the North Beaches everywhere.