Ho was a revered sensei, but when his dismissive arrogance caused the death of a beloved student, he renounced not only his possessions but also his role as master, and now roams the streets in search of a way to atone. Drawn by his presence, a group forms around him: Michael, an addicted gambler who has lost everything, including himself; Ranger, a Vietnam veteran with a tenuous grip on reality; Lamont, a once-fearless street-gang warlord turned hopeless alcoholic; Target, a relentless "clanger" who speaks only by echoing the sounds of others; and Brewster, an obsessive collector of hardboiled paperbacks he stashes in an abandoned building that even vermin avoid.
Late one night, Michael spots a woman in a white Rolls-Royce throwing something into the river. Convinced that the woman is a perfect blackmail target, he attempts to recruit the others to search for her. But news that Brewster's library is slated for demolition turns this halfhearted effort into a serious mission to find the ultimate problem-solver: money, and with it a new home for Brewster's precious collection.
Each frantic knock opens another barred door as the building's destruction draws nearer. And the answers to each man's questions trigger shocking explosions that hit you with all the visceral power we have come to expect from this fierce and dynamic writer.