A love-hate relationship between a father and his son heats up to a competitive flash point in Brown's propulsive fourth book (Final Performance, 1988, etc.). Bobby Barlow, now 30, looks back at the teenage years he spent with his father, Floyd, a car thief, gambler, and all-round bad- news guy, in the late '60s in Portland and Las Vegas. Floyd becomes enamored of Melinda Johnson, a beautiful former prostitute who is working as a receptionist while going to law school at night. When Floyd loses two fingers in an accident at the mill where he is working and the insurance company insists it will pay for only one and a half since one finger was chopped off at the first knuckle, he kidnaps an insurance executive, threatens to slice off his fingers, then dumps him and makes off with his Cadillac. Floyd and Bobby then pick up Melinda and get involved in a chase with the police, not only because of the stolen car, but also because Melinda's boyfriend, Bo Stenovich, is a cop. After a few years in prison for Floyd and a foster home for Bobby, the two are reunited and set out to hook up with Melinda again, even though she married Bo a few days after the arrest. Their crimes escalate from petty to more and more serious, but through it all Bobby is enthralled by his father, even as he comes to realize that he is more of a parent to Floyd than Floyd is to him. Bobby's voice is matter-of-fact, and he often states the most surprising information flatly and to comic effect. The male version of Mona Simpson's Anywhere But Here but so much better. Tense as we experience the Barlow guys' emotional and physical thrills.