Starr raises the stakes from his usual sour-noir entries (Twisted City, 2004, etc.) by making his entire cast despicable.
Every time Ryan Rossetti thinks about Jake Thomas, he wants to puke. Back in Canarsie High, both of them were hot prospects dogged by baseball scouts. Sure enough, Jake’s coming off a .351 season with the Pirates and looking forward to a zillion-dollar free-agent deal next year. But Ryan, his pitching career ended in the minors by a popped ligament, is making ten dollars an hour as a housepainter. His one consolation is that Christina Mercado, Jake’s childhood-sweetheart-turned-neglected-fiancée, has agreed to leave Jake for Ryan during the star’s celebratory visit to his hometown. In another corner of Brooklyn, ex-con Saiquan Harrington vows vengeance against Jermaine Carter, the fellow Crip who shot Saiquan’s homeboy Desmond Johnson and left him paralyzed. Meanwhile, Jake, who can barely remember Christina’s last name, learns that he’s going to need an uplifting human-interest story fast in order to neutralize an impending statutory-rape charge. The Rube Goldberg plot hurls these raging citizens together with all the energy of a nuclear-powered kaleidoscope. It’s obvious that the end will be violent, but which specific acts of violence are anyone’s guess.
Noir fiction has long mired ordinary guys in impossible situations. Starr’s distinctive contribution is to make virtually everyone involved seethe with resentment from the opening scene. The result is scorching.