Mick Ballou can’t tell the cops about the men who broke into his storage room in Jersey, murdered two of his errand boys, and carted off the liquor that was stored there, since Mick had stolen the booze himself. Instead, he calls Matthew Scudder. Even though Scudder is more respectable than ever—he’s married his longtime companion Elaine Mardell and gotten a private investigator’s license at last—he helps Mick and his driver Andy Buckley bury the bodies, and noses around just enough to satisfy himself that he can’t tell whether the thieves were opportunists or personal enemies. But Scudder, his modest task completed, doesn’t take himself off the case fast enough for the killers, who are only getting started. They arrange to have him beaten, they send a shooter after him, and then they go after Mick in earnest. The body count, as the title suggests, is fearsome. But even more harrowing is the obsession with death that grips everybody Scudder talks to, from gay albino African-American Danny Boy Bell, who’s constantly updating his list of all the people he knows who’ve died, to Mick, still fabled 30 years later as having celebrated his victory over a rival mobster by toting around a hideous trophy in a bowling bag. Not as breathtakingly plotted as Scudder’s last, Even the Wicked (1997), but still an unforgettable dispatch from a world in which there are no real survivors, just guys who haven’t died yet.