Matthew Scudder is finally leading a comfortable life. He's sober, he's married, and the state just gave him a private investigator's license. He's growing older, and he's even getting respectable. Then Scudder signs on to help his closest and most unlikely friend, the larger-than-life Hell's Kitchen hoodlum Mick Ballou. And all hell breaks loose. Scudder finds out he's not so respectable after all. He learns the spruced-up sidewalks of New York are as mean as they ever were, dark and gritty and stained with blood. And he discovers he's living in a world where the past is a minefield, the present is a war zone, and the future's an open question.