The types in the book of short stories, The Neon Wilderness (1947) are here integrated into a novel which is a grim to gruesome, unrelieved, panorama of the sordid lives around Division Street, Chicago. These are the disinherited -- the petty cheats, phony braggarts, double clockers, elbow sneaks, small time chiselers, touts, stooges, the steerers, cokies and dopers -- and Frank Machine, the Dealer, is one of them. Frankie who tries to fight morphine but whose marriage to crippled --physically and mentally -- Sophie is one obstacle he cannot surmount, gets help from a little tart, Molly-O, gets off the fix when he spends nine months in County. But when he comes out he gets on the needle again and it is the little punk, Sparrow, who stool pigeons on a murder who puts Frankie on the lam. The closing of the net sends him to suicide. This does something for the bums, near-bums, and junkies, that Caldwell has done for the poor whites -- in its handling of vile knowledge coupled with a sort of innocent humor, in its profiles of rowdy, vulgar profligacy, in its Hogarthian picturing of things as they are. But the overall is distasteful, if compassionate.