Among Block's fifteen or so Scudder novels, and about sixty books overall, many are not worth reading, but some stack up quite well against the top output of other mystery novelists. Here, the plotting is relatively complicated, with Block using to good effect the common trick of having two separate cases come together. Scudder's history and present life situation are as usual made integral to the story, and many of the peripheral characters get time in the spotlight, with TJ, who's a lot of fun, being introduced here. Hell's Kitchen is vividly brought to life here, and the story is dark enough to - almost - invite comparison to Andrew Vachss. Sometimes the Scudder novels are mostly about his journey through life, sometimes they tend to degenerate into a series of conversations, sometimes the plots are simple, linear, and seemingly designed to give Block enough reason to crank out another book. This one is very solid. Along with Boneyard and Tombstones, this amonts to something of a renaissance for the series.