Whistler, an unemployed L.A. shamus, is in a coffee shop when he witnesses a car crash outside: it's particularly noticeable since one of the vehicles is seen to contain a headless corpse! And Whistler's curiosity is quickened when he later realizes that the incident--the matter of the headless corpse, in particular--has been completely covered up by the L.A.P.D. What's going on? Well, as the reader knows right from the start, the cover-up has been arranged by mega-tycoon Walter Cape--who has built his empire on child-porn, kiddie-prostitution, snuff films, blackmail, police corruption, and the like. (The headless body belonged to a Vietnamese woman who objected to Cape's sexual abuse of her pre-teen son.) And Whistler's attempts to figure out what's happening--and to protect his new girlfriend, another witness to the car crash--lead him to New Orleans, where Cape's foulest henchmen are heavily into rape, murder, and sickoporn. There's potential here for black-comic suspense of the grisliest sort, especially since Campbell (The Spy Who Sat and Waited) often writes with down-and-dirty panache. Unfortunately, with each plot point belabored and an excess of gratuitous sex-and-violence, the actual effect is more dank than compelling or amusing: only for readers with an insatiable appetite for the lowest depths of L.A.-style decadence.