Nick Stefanos isn't the nicest guy in the world, but he tries to be a decent person, and when something goes wrong, he feels guilty. This is the third novel in the series, and we meet Nick as a bartender.
To give you an idea of the nature of Stefanos, this novel opens with him going on a pretty bad drunk, passing out by a river, and hearing the murder of a young black man. He feels guilt, just for being there.
This novel's strengths lie largely in the central character and the rendering of modern-day, low-rent Washington D.C. I grew up in the area, and I have to say, Pelecanos nails it on the head. Stefanos is also a very sad character which you feel for.
The plot is pretty well-done; you can't figure out what's going on on page ten, you actually have to read the book. Still, Vachss has been in this territory, and his Burke is a bit stronger and more world-weary than Stefanos. However, this is a pretty good detective novel that I enjoyed a great deal. Worth reading, a fun work.