After a three-book hiatus, Nick Stefanos rejoins the Pelecanos repertory company (The Sweet Forever, 1998, etc.) and delivers another bravura performance. Colorful, often violent, always passionate, it’s a remarkable group that Pelecanos has assembled for his saga of the seamy side of Washington, D.C., and over the course of seven novels his players have never failed to entertain. The curtain rises, this time out, on a routine robbery that goes horribly wrong, leaving five dead before it’s over. Among these is Dmitri Karras’s young son, and the effect on the elder Karras is predictably devastating: —I know now,— he tells his former business partner Marcus Clay, —there’s two kinds of people in the world: those who—ve lost a child and those who haven—t.— Three years after the fact, he’s still defined by his despair. Divorced, zombie-like, he’s a source of increasing worry to his friends. One of them contacts Nick Stefanos in the hope he can hook Dmitri up with a job at the Spot, the watering hole where Nick patrols the bar when he isn—t doing PI gigs. Object: occupational therapy, a last-ditch attempt to give Dmitri a reason for living that might transcend his obsessive desire to kill the killer of his son. And it works. Little by little, Dmitri begins to reassemble the pieces of a life. Then, almost accidentally, Nick stumbles on a clue he doesn—t really want to find because it will lead to a place he doesn—t want to go. Or rather, a place he doesn—t want Dmitri to go, which is into the path of the murderer he’s been hunting—a cold-blooded sociopath with his own all-consuming need for revenge. Vivid storytelling by a writer whose sense of the theatrical is a formidable strength and whose reputation lags way behind his talent.