As bored and melancholic as the next Crumley hero (Bordersnakes, 1996, etc.), that restless, rootless, five-times-married, good-with-fists/bad-with-relationships, aging enfant terrible Milos Milodragovitch ventures into a Texas saloon in the wake of a resentful ex-con. For reasons insufficiently clear, Walker, the ex-con, is bent on mayhem, and in record time beats up a patron and blows away the saloonkeeper, thus—also for reasons insufficiently clear—raising himself in Milo’s estimation as he watches Walker’s rapid departure. Wishing to take up the matter of first-degree murder with him, the cops pursue, requesting cooperation from Milo, who withholds it. More: Milo decides there’s a mystery here that deserves all his best efforts to penetrate. As a result of these fateful decisions, he loses his ladylove, finds another, gets on the wrong side of the powerful Lomax family, punches out a seemingly endless variety of targets—big guys, little guys, old guys, a fat lady, a one-armed man etc.—while abusing substances at a pace that leaves Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Travis McGee in the dust. When the smoke finally clears and the dead bodies are shunted out of the way, Milo appears satisfied that his mystery has been well and truly penetrated—this, too, for reasons insufficiently clear.
“Evil just exists,” pontificates Milo, in the act of slowly, savagely torturing someone to death. “I could only hope it wouldn’t infect me.” Forget it, Milo. Your only hope is if they call off Judgment Day.