A hard-working debut in the hard-boiled league, Manhattan division--weak on plot (rambling and predictable), strong on showy dialogue and atmosphere (N.Y. low-life and backstage), marred by some badly misplaced pretentiousness. Shamus Kevin Fitzgerald is hired by movie legend Carlotta Rennie (""Don't ever fuck with a star"") to find her wayward son Bruce. The trail takes narrator Fitzgerald into the flaming homosexual side of Greenwich Village and later, when he finds photos of Bruce's actress sister Deirdre communing with pimps and pushers, into other seamy areas. Then Bruce turns up dead in a rabbi-owned nursing home (ever so topical), followed by the shooting of Deirdre's real-estate shyster boyfriend. All this might be reasonably palatable in a lively, hip, messy way were it not for excesses that stop the action dead--like Carlotta's yucky speech about What Acting Really Is or Fitzgerald's lapses into artiness: ""Breaths, sighs, coughs, heaves, tears. Tears. Fuck all pain. Away."" When Topor has mastered the basics, maybe he can get heavy; in the meantime, only those turned on by glimpses of show-folk snorting cocaine will want to make his acquaintance.