An unlicensed private eye prowls New York in search of the man who murdered his nasty girlfriend.
Ash McKenna, born of a Coney Island firefighter but long established on the Lower East Side, considers himself “a blunt instrument”; his childhood friend Bombay calls him “the most brilliant stupid person I know.” His favored drink is Jameson’s, but he’s trying to stay sober until he finds the lowlife who murdered Chell, a Greenpoint exotic dancer and aspiring actress, hours after she left him a message begging for protection from some unnamed guy while Ash was out getting hammered. Ash’s inquiries, if you can call them that, take him from district leader Ginny Tonic, the transgender queen of the Lower East Side, to Good Kelly and Bad Kelly, the former moving to Austin, the latter sleeping with a cop, with stops along the way at every neighborhood dive that might interest or shock Ash’s cousin Margo, who’s visiting from Pennsylvania to check out NYU. He looks for Fanny Fatale, a dancer Chell beat out for a gig, and makes time with Joel Cairo, Iva Archer, and Terry Lennox, who’ve borrowed their names from the work of genre masters to whom Hart poses no threat. But there’s not much of a mystery, not even much of a story, just an after-dark tour of Gotham’s seediest, kinkiest haunts while you’re waiting for the inevitable modishly ironic anticlimax.
Though Ash’s arch world-weariness and the freak-show fleshpots are bound to attract tourists, you can’t help feeling that Hart’s making it all up as he goes along.