Burke, thug with a heart of gold, guardian angel of victimized women and children, resurfaces in Portland, Oregon, after an assassin left him for dead in New York. He's living from hand to mouth when he stumbles into a missing-child case. Burke suspects parental involvement in the disappearance of young teen Rosa, but nothing supports the theory. The trail leads first to Portland's red light district, where he hears about a serial killer whom the cops seem unwilling or unable to catch, and then to a deadly conspiracy involving illicit prescription drugs being peddled to victims of AIDS, MS, and cancer. This latest Burke novel once again addresses the series' common themes: personal isolation, distrust of authority, and the shameless exploitation of the defenseless by the powerful. Sometimes the exploiters are organized criminals, and sometimes they are cops; in this case, it's the medical establishment. Burke's world is harsh and unforgiving, but so is Burke. It's a match made in hell, and a growing contingent of dedicated noir fans wouldn't want it any other way.