The best things about this book are how, despite its simplicity of circumstance, its main characters are richly three-dimensional and movingly shaded: John G., the raving homeless man who sets the plot in motion through his therapeutic obsession with Jakes' wife Dana is an extremely empathetic recovering heroin addict whose own family has been torn apart by violence - there has not been an urban homeless character more engaging since the titular fellow of 1993's Free by Todd Komarnicki (Doubleday); Phil is a Brooklyn tough who poorly harbors a guilt-inducing secret; and the book's greatest character, New York City itself, is drawn with a deft versimilitude, full of subtly etched class, race and sex distinctions.
The latter is no surprise coming from Blauner, whose finely textured and harrowing 1992 debut, Slow Motion Riot won that year's Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Novel. Blauner's books are as much about sociological observation as about thrills-and-chills. His keen journalist's eye and psychological insight make for terrifically pungent prose. Tricks of social perception amongst the characters make there be not one titular intruder in this book, but at least three as Jake, Phillip and John join in a dance that finds them accidentally and purposely stepping on each others' turf and toes.