A ribald debut novel of sting and countersting--with one eye on Elmore Leonard and the other on the impossible dream of a cabin on a solitary Minnesota island. The island dreamer, Joe Crow, ex-cop, ex-doper, turns down coked- up broker Dickie Wicky's request to find his roving wife Catfish's current lover and pay him $10,000 to disappear--but when a wild poker game leaves Dickie holding Crow's marker, Crow, still hoping to raise money for a down payment on that cabin, agrees to work off the debt by running Dickie's errand. He doesn't know that the search for Catfish will be only the first of a series of increasingly tricky bait-and- switch games, since her ``love stud''--Tommy Campo (a.k.a. Tommy Paine, Tom Aquinas, and T.K. Jefferson)--is half of the Tom and Ben Show, a pair of deuces already on the run from Chicago tough guy Joey Cadillac and his envoy Freddy Wisnesky. Whether Crow owes Dickie or Dickie owes Crow, every new twist--from another poker game where Crow meets Ben to a quick tumble with the insatiable Catfish--leaves Crow more and more tangled in the Galactic Guardians Fund, Tom and Ben's comic-book scam; Dickie's endless stream of moneymaking propositions; and Joey's search-and-destroy mission against Tom and Ben and anybody who's seen them. So, taking a deep breath, Crow ropes his punk neighbor Laura Debrowski and his irascible father Sam O'Gara into a scheme that'll rake in the cash by appealing to the bad guys' worst instincts--if it doesn't get Crow & Co. killed first. A first novel that's overplotted within an inch of its life, but relaxed and consistently entertaining--with some great poker and a positively sunny view of its lowlife principals.