Heavy-drinking Russell Murray can't remember the last day or so--or the name of the girl in his bed when two bruisers come gunning for him and kill her instead. Nor does he know how he got back from Dallas to Chicago without the briefcase he was to return to his boss, Tony Palmer, at The Literary Times. Scared, drunk, and on the run, Russ blacks out--and friendly (paid-off) cops leave him at a tony detox clinic, where he teams up with rich, rebellious Sherry. The two, in the first of many stolen cars, slip away just before mob assassins can get to Russ. Then a midnight visit to his office reveals a dead Palmer, and calls to a Trib reporter, indicate that both the Chicago and New York mobs are after that briefcase. As Russ tries to remember where he left it, he and Sherry DWI across the Midwest, colliding with goons, an Uzi-toting granny, and the FBI. Desperate, they head to Florida, check into detox, barely escape with their lives (and livers), and return to Chicago--where old mob indiscretions will get sorted out, and Russ cleans up his act. Breathlessly paced hard-boiled caper, peopled with tart, charming, sad drunks. Science-fiction writer Barrett (Through Darkest America, 1987, etc.) gives us his best shot--of wry.