New Jersey runaways eager for action often wind up in glitzy, tawdry Atlantic City, and frequently, if they're sassy-looking but naive, in gangster Delmundo Real's hotel suite, where they disappear into the boudoir with older men with jaded tastes, particularly for violent sex. Newark's premier sleuth, Tamara Hayle (Easier to Kill, 1998, etc.), on the lookout for rich truant Gabriella Desmond, fills in as a bartender during one of Real's soirées long enough to meet scared young Amaretta, who may know Gabriella's whereabouts, and Tamara’s own sometime soulmate, Basil Dupre, who's hunting for his missing teenaged daughter. Unfortunately, the trail to both Gabriella and Dupre's girl leads toward what might be a serial killer at work—or, just as bad, a customer of Real's who likes to play rough with his nightly cuties. Real warns Tamara off by trashing her car, but she persists, tracking down Gabriella's best friend, a homeless boy named Rook; studying Gabriella's brother Carter as he loses big in the casinos; and interviewing Jayne and Layne, two of Gabriella's recent roommates, just before they’re murdered in unpleasant ways. The Desmond parents cast a cold eye on Tamara's detecting efforts, particularly when she implies incest episodes may have driven the now pregnant Gabriella from home. More sorrow, more dead kids, and more nuzzling with Basil will occupy Tamara before she flips a last quarter in the slots and heads back north.
Despite the syrupy distraction of superlover Basil, an unromantic look at kids caught in snares set by smarmy adults.