Eighteen months ago, in the world before Pearl Harbor, Carl Carlson was reaching for the brass ring. The Carolina Crooner caught the eye, and ear, of Michael Papanoumou (``the Greek'') and Ernie Mussolini, major players in the Cleveland rackets, who planned a push that would put his name in lights and might even send him to Hollywood. Now, back home from Europe with a sniper's bullet in his arm, Carl is looking at Cleveland from 120 miles away--Fort Anthony Wayne, in dreary Erie--and it might as well be on another planet, unless he can talk his CO into putting him on a long enough leash to track down his old contacts. But when he finally scares up Musso (who's shortened his name for one reason and the other), he learns that the Greek has been killed by gangster Giorgio Macchianti, and Musso's only interest in Carl is in having him worm his way into torch singer Natalie Bixby's capacious bed so that she can whisper Georgy Mack's whereabouts to him. Not only does Carl have no stomach for this assignment, but the murder of a German POW back at Fort Wayne and the fatal rape of a young boy nearby are more than enough to keep him off- balance. More than enough for this moody, overplotted tale, too. Best to treat Davis's fifth novel (Red Knight, 1992, etc.) as a fabulously sooty tapestry of wartime nostalgia with its sour hero and multiple felonies as a bonus.