Collins's one-armed PI Dan Fortune is up against the FBI, the CIA and a ruthless family in this tautly crafted mystery. Brooding ex-teacher Frank Owen is searching for his immature kid brother, Billy, a frustrated John Wayne type involved with gunrunning in Central America. When Frank's worried ex-wife brings in Fortune to help solve the death of Billy's shadowy Latin friend, shots fired at Fortune before he finds the body, and an attempt to murder Frank all hint that Billy's latest mission of glory has put him in over his head. As the action shifts from New York's Chelsea district to cowboy country in California's Santa Ynez Valley, Dan and Frank constantly talk about women and manhood. In fact, the real theme of this yarn is misplaced manhood, spotlighted in a procession of handguns, pit bulls, Mexicans and even hand grenades. Frequent flashbacks impede the early going, but the dialogue is crisp, and the "castrati'' of Castrato are well-wrought, if not memorable.
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