The streetcorner murder of a Detroit schoolchild sets off a powder-keg of violence, corruption, and betrayal in this gallery of seamy heroes and seamier losers. Word on the street is that Rickey Jefferson was shot by Julius Caesar Cooper, the notorious killer working for Dickie Broedinger's drug gang, the Satin Knights. But though Cooper was seen with Rickey only a few minutes before his death, the real killer, who shot Rickey thinking he was Cooper, was Shooter, a free-lance hit man working for a gang of the city fathers, including mayor Marty Hatch, prosecutor Sandy Stone, Judge Bill Colbane, and--the real power behind the whole mess--police chief Frank Sims, who'd first talked the others into forming a vigilante squad to make themselves look good. Detective Stan Kochinski, egged on by Free Press reporter Mary Stimic to take a closer look into the killing, gets a call from Broedinger's wife Wendy confirming Cooper's unlikely story that the murder weapon was stolen from him a few weeks back during a romantic interlude in a parked car. But Kochinski doesn't want to rock Sims's boat for fear of what he might do to his wife Marlyss--who happens to be Kochinski's lover. As Sims worries that Judge Colbane will crack under the pressure of covering for Shooter, Cooper comes up for his preliminary hearing before Colbane, who's still looking for revenge for the rape of his treasured daughter Missy, and all hell breaks loose in the courtroom- -though a few of the leads will remain to get dropped in the closing scenes. Kinkopf's gritty vision of the Detroit drug trade is compromised by unremarkable prose and unlikely flashes of hope in the end. Even so, this is one grim first novel.