Here, like Brown's first novel (Hot Wire, 1985), a drawn-out and clichÃ‰d melodrama about working-class brothers trying to get ahead in life. Little Jay McKinney has always looked up to his big brother, Mike. They grew up together in San Jose during the 60's and stuck together even when their crooked Mom, Gina, got nailed on some fradulent real-estate seam and went to jail, leaving them with their boring old carpenter father, who's as straight as a plumb line. When Gina gets out of the stir, she claims them, and the threesome heads for Los Angeles. By this time Jay is a bad boy, skipping school (he's an undiagnosed dyslexic reader) and burglarizing houses. Mike, however, turns out to have a knack for acting, and soon finds himself on TV and in the movies. Even Jay pulls himself together and starts writing a novel (which, we are coyly told, will turn out to be Hot Wire). But the problem is, Mom just can't stay honest: when she's not stealing Mike's movie-company paychecks (and forcing him to make ruinous career decisions), she's generally stealing and staying one step, barely, ahead of the law. Jay sees her mining his life and leaves forDad (who doesn't look so bad now) and San Jose; but Mike--unwisely--stays on. A treatment as heavy-handed and portentous as the prose it is written in.