Uneven, two-fisted tale of a working-class Jewish brawler up against the hustlers, grifters, and con-men of the mean streets of Los Angeles. Frank (Every Young Man's Dream, 1984) takes his 30-year-old, taciturn steelworker out of Chicago, but he won't take the Chicago out of Southside Rudy Yid, a well-meaning tough guy whose soft spot for weaklings and hard-luck cases brings him nothing but trouble. Unmarried, with no close family or friends, Rudy's ten-year career in a steel mill ends when he defends a new employee from a superior's perverse advances, antagonizes a lazy worker, and, on his day off, makes the TV news defending a pudgy, 14-year-old member of the American Nazi Party from rioting Jews at a protest march. Cutting his ties, and with nothing but a wad of cash, an old car, and a nine-millimeter semiautomatic, he lights out for L.A., hoping to find a business he can master. In grim North Hollywood, his honest, noble intentions make him easy prey. Rudy eventually gets a job as a butcher--his father's trade--but is fired when he tells off a bigoted employee. Meanwhile, there's a lot of male bonding going on, mostly in dialogue, as nearly everyone Rudy meets launches into elliptical soliloquies about their lives and broken dreams. A tussle with some rowdy kids in a movie theater puts him in jail, where, in the book's best scenes, Rudy kills a sadistic con and escapes captivity. Frank then abandons his original theme--can working- class values survive in decadent America?--as Rudy falls in with a team of bank robbers, most of whom meet their ends in Hollywood-style blood-splattered gunplay. Rudy flees to Mexico, last seen wondering whether he should sign on with a team of mercenaries heading for Africa. Strong on action, weak on sensibility, a tumult of earnest literary effort, muted ethnic angst, and film-noir clichÇs.