A well-intentioned doctor working with prostitutes and junkies in the seedier parts of Los Angeles can get himself into big trouble. So learns the hero of Spiegelman’s (Thick As Thieves, 2011, etc.) noir thriller as his noble aims make him the target of Russian terrorists and shady American business moguls.
Dr. Adam Knox runs a clinic in a neighborhood he calls “Skid Row-adjacent.” By night he cruises some even dodgier parts of town with a friend, former Special Forces agent Ben Sutter; together they perform medicine for money on junkies and gang-war casualties. Visiting the clinic one day is Elena, a prostitute bearing some alarming bruises. She leaves Knox to guard her young son, Alex, makes a quick trip to the bathroom, and disappears. Once Russian thugs start appearing at his door, Knox realizes it won’t be an easy path to reunite mother and child. The trail leads him first to Hoover Mays, a guilty-looking executive who sports bruises similar to Elena’s. But he faces a bigger threat in Harris Bray, a billionaire who runs a Koch-like empire of oil refineries and conservative think tanks. With numerous human rights violations to his credit, Bray has his own reasons for seeking Elena and for making sure Knox doesn’t find her first.
The plot complications get more outlandish as they go, but the dark urban atmosphere keeps the book grounded in gritty reality.