Dazzling, sordid first novel from New Zealand-born, Australia-based poet/playwright Scott, whose poetic grittiness makes this tale of Auckland's fringe people a standout. Glory, a whale-sized, sometime band-singer and vividly creative painter, pities a barely teen-age junkie who's clearly overdosing, helps her from the nightclub, and, with drag-queen prostitute Grace offering a lift, gets her to the hospital--where she dies. Next day, Grace and Glory are hauled in by the cops, Grace is beaten and Glory is obviously being set up as the kid's killer. The saga of why and who careens past Glory's first husband Mitch, a dealer; her second husband Weasel, another scummy dealer who's been murdered; and her life-model Roxy, an addict and police informer who's viciously obsessed with Glory. After sadistic acts of vandalism, a kidnapping (of Glory's Down's syndrome daughter), an art-gallery opening marred by picketing and an artist-model slashing confrontation, the plot fades away--but fierce images remain: a retarded child at her mother's art show, for instance. This unconventional, riveting heroine (along with her brash, squalid tastes and friends) is unforgettable. She's not quite a detective, and the book's not really a play-by-the-rules mystery, but the characterizations, the sheer energy, and driving imagination here make this a potent read.