A racketeer, a hit man and a bent cop form a homicidal ménage à trois.
As stone killers go, Leonard Carter is top of the heap. He learned the killing trade in Iraq and gathered extra credits in Afghanistan. As the NYPD’s Lieutenant Solly Epstein says: “You want to go up against him, bring a SWAT team.” Mostly honest and decent, Epstein has unwisely wandered off the straight and narrow. About to become a father for the first time and needing to stretch a modest paycheck, he’s taken tainted money, also for the first time. It’s not so awful, Epstein rationalizes, not like real stealing. All he’s done is part with certain information concerning one of the city’s rankest lowlifes. As a result, the lowlife, racket kingpin Paulie Margarine, finds himself a target for the redoubtable Carter. Now the serious maneuvering begins as each of the three jockeys for position in a complex game of survival. At length two of them form an alliance as unlikely as it is desperate, leaving the odd man out in a position suggested by the title.
Lean and mean. When he’s on form, as he is here, Solomita (Damaged Goods, 1996, etc.) does hard-boiled noir with the best of them.