A debut that as morality play strives to be more than the sum of its paris--namely, street gang violence, vile hoodlums, and a not-so-innocent gone terribly bad. Things could be worse for young Danny Palmer--a 1970s black Brooklyn youth weighed down by immense peer pressure--but he doesn't know it. He ignores the positive example and strength of his mother as he slips and slides into the nefarious world of street gangs. It's so easy--everyone around young Danny is caught up in the allure of guns, knives, and drugs. And the police are no better: Instead of protecting civilians from one another, they become players themselves in the rackets. Danny is strong-armed, figuratively and literally, when his pal Paul is killed by two rogue cops. But Danny has a mind of his own and, in a nod to old Jimmy Cagney movies like The Roaring Twenties, rises in the ranks to be a power-source himself. Along the way, he falls in with a young woman who has his child. Again Cagney-style, Danny shows no remorse right up to the bloody end--a finale that involves a nice bit of cleverly wrought plotting. Throughout, though, Baker undermines his aptly ragged prose with inadvertent stumblings (""The crowd screamed as they gathered around, waxed in terror"") and clichâ€šs. His close attention to character, however, makes for a worthwhile read, even if the inflammatory subject sometimes seems deliberately provocative. Updating crime dramas of the past is perhaps on Baker's mind, and at times he seems to be writing his own version of Boyz 'N the Hood, '70s style. The old precept advises writing what you know, and it may be unsurprising that the author is currently in an English prison. Experience, in this case, seems to have been both help and hindrance.