Days out of the hospital recovering from an alcoholic seizure, Matt Scudder is hired to help call girl Kim Dakkinen break from her pimp, Chance. Scudder talks to the Chance, who unexpectedly says Kim is free to go. Kim thanks Matt and pays him, and two days later, she is found sliced to death in a hotel room. Suspicion falls on Chance, who again unexpectedly hires Scudder to find the real killer.
As usual, Block shows the knack for creating atmosphere and nuanced characters. Scudder realistically goes from denial to acceptance of his drinking problem. In the meantime, he is more vulnerable than ever, surviving Kim's case only by dogged determination. I've long heard this is a pivotal book in the Scudder series. I have a few more on the shelf. We'll see.