The biggest mystery about the drive-by shooting outside a South Central liquor store has nothing to do with who pulled the trigger. Everybody knows that drug kingpin Kinks Anderson has enemies, so it's no coincidence that two of LAPD's finest see him get shot. In fact, Det. Rick Dover would have become a casualty himself if a fortuitous carpenter hadn't been on hand to take three bullets for him. Who is Jake Carroll, why was he willing to get shot in the back to save a stranger's life, and why did he check himself out of the hospital and vanish with one slug still in him? Together with his partner Falcon, who's too cool to need a first name, Dover (Cracks in the Rainbow, 2005, etc.) tries to locate his unlikely savior and make sure he can testify against the shooters. But he can't devote much time to the elusive Carroll; his hands are full of other crimes and misdemeanors. A pretty nurse at the hospital, unaware that Dover has a girlfriend off in Minnesota, makes a play for him. He and Falcon catch another homicide, the frenzied stabbing of a man whose body went right on absorbing punishment after he was dead. And the gangbangers who only wounded Kinks are certain to return for another crack at him. Bouton (Max Unlocks the Universe, 2006, etc.) provides so much trash talk that you wonder what his cops are trying to prove. Maybe next time they'll relax and let the greased-lightning plot carry them.