Efra°n Cruzado’s traveled a long way from his political roots in Mexico, but not far enough to prevent somebody from tossing a Molotov cocktail through his sleeping daughters’ bedroom window. The resulting fire kills Cruzado, his mother, and one of his daughters--and causes ripples to spread through every organization in Los Angeles, from the Rancho Tajuata Tenants’ Association (who want to know why the Ra-Falcons, the ex-gang-bangers they’d hired as a security detail, didn’t prevent the fire) to the city housing office (desperate to have the Tenants’ Association gather enough tenants’ signatures to complete the project’s application to convert from HUD public housing to co-op ownership). Dissatisfied with the LAPD’s reassignation of Lt. Marasco Seguin from Wilshire Division to cover the case, Ra-Falcons chief Antar Absalla hires Seguin’s old friend, black shamus Ivan Monk, to get to the bottom of it. And the bottom, as Monk soon finds out, lies deep beneath a tangle of political corruption going back to the Watts riots 30 years ago, with nearly everybody involved having something to hide--beginning with his client, who wastes no time in firing Monk after the occurrence of the first of several casually violent episodes that will send the body count soaring before Monk can help the cops cuff the survivors. Monk’s third case (Perdition, U.S.A., not reviewed, etc.) provides enough gritty gossip, blistering action, and trash talk to make real-life L.A. seem comparatively wholesome.