Pelecanos returns from the striking Shoedog (1994) to the saga of D.C. barman and sometime shamus Nick Stefanos. This time, Nick wakes up from an overnight drunk to find that he's sharing riverbank space with late teen Calvin Jeter, and decides that he just can't leave the case to the uninterested Metropolitan Police. Passing himself off as "assisting" the cops, Nick questions Calvin's family and friends, ties him and his missing pal, Roland Lewis, in to drugs and man-boy porn, then joins Jack LaDuke, a p.i. who's new to the cityand, evidently, to eating with knives and forksto run down the responsible parties. Nick and his incomparably seamy milieu, in their third outing (Nick's Trip, 1993, etc.), get an A, though the case is the sort of five-finger exercise usually associated with tired old pros resting up between their big events.