A routine hit for the Chicago Outfit erupts in a salvo of violence and stupidity as the survivors scurry to protect themselves from each other and race the cops for an all-important witness. Capo Aldo Forte has asked his buddy Joe-Sep Alessi to bring in a pair of wiseguys from New Jersey to lean on Manny Peters, a soldier who hijacked a kilo of coke. Joe-Sep sends along rising star Angelo Franconi, his daughter's new boyfriend, to keep an eye on the proceedings, and what an eyeful Angelo gets: While the wiseguys are taking care of Manny, Angelo catches sight of a potential witness and points him out to the killers, who duly whack him too. But the dead witness was only a kid, a 13-year-old named Rayfield Tees whose cause is promptly taken up by rabble-rousing alderman Rev. Lorenz Hunter and ambitious reporter Holly Stokes. Word leaks out that Rayfield's murder was witnessed by his girlfriend, Latrona Meek, who's vanished from under the noses of the task force headed by homicide cop Franco Norelli and burned-out Violent Crimes veteran Joe Morrison (State Street, 1991). All this puts Angelo in a very delicate position, because he's really an FBI informant who can't afford to blow his cover. As Morrison negotiates with a dead-eyed drug lord for information about Latrona's whereabouts, Joe-Sep's lieutenant, Jimmy Pagnano, is engaged in an equally distasteful deal with witless out-of-towner Vaughn Swayze to supply a corpse for a fly-by-night insurance scam- -laying the groundwork for a ghoulish surprise when this subplot finally hooks up to Angelo's frantic attempts to cover himself while he's tying up all the loose ends for Joe-Sep. The plotting is dogged and overelaborate, like Joseph Wambaugh after a sleepless night, but Whittingham's Chicago backgrounds are as richly reeking as ever.