Spenser and Hawk take on a black street-gang while, on the domestic front, Susan persuades Spenser to move in: more hard-boiled mystery with a runny yolk from the ever-entertaining Parker. After some good-natured haggling, Spenser's dark-side alter-ego Hawk agrees to pay the Boston shamus a third of what he's getting--"nothing"--to free a decayed ghetto housing project from the "Hobarts," the violent drug-dealing youth gang that controls it utterly; and, at the same time, to bring to justice whoever--most likely a Hobart--gunned down a 15-year-old and her infant daughter at the project. With Hawk as guide, then, Spenser enters the forbidding world of gangs, marveling at their colorful slang and ritualized ways, meditating--with input from a saintly youth worker--on their hopeless lives...which gets him to thinking a lot about Hawk and the cruel sacrifices the black Ãœbermensch made to escape the ghetto. Spenser's longtime girlfriend Susan thinks about that, too, while monitoring how her experiment in domesticating the p.i. is faring--not too well, actually, despite all the usual lovingly described scenes of cooking and soulful cooing between the two: Spenser is pacing like a caged tiger. Meanwhile, the gang's leader has fixed on Hawk as a kind of father figure, but one he'll have to slay ("Hawk, you and me the same," he says. "It got to be clone we step up. Ain't afraid to be killing, ain't afraid to be dying") unless Hawk kills him first. The inevitable showdown is pure adrenaline--and the subsequent avenging of the murders, plus Spenser's dignified coming to terms with Susan, pure satisfaction. Nothing new, just Parker marking perfect time: Spenser fans will love it.