Constantine, a drifter who's been too many places to care about anything that won't fit into his backpack, hitches a ride into trouble when Polk, the old man who picks him up outside DC, stops off, and gets turned down, for the $20,000 in dirty money his Korean War buddy Grimes owes him. Instead, Grimes enlists Polk and Constantine for another score: a pair of liquor-store heists that'll bring in enough for all three of them and the five other guys on the job. Within the hour, Constantine has casually seduced Grimes's classy girlfriend, Delia, and you probably don't need to finish this sentence. Don't skip a page of the book, though, or you'll miss a canny portrait of the shoe salesman (a stripped-clown echo of Nick Stefanos in A Firing Offense, 1992, and Nick's Trip, 1993) who teaches Constantine about Life, or a late-blooming noir retrospect that's so dead-eyed that the sentiment takes on a comic edge. More fun than a Late Show marathon--starting with The Asphalt Jungle.