Tensions are high and the dangers multiply as New York City bartender and man-about-the-mean-streets Brian McNulty---always a sucker for the plight of the little guy---joins forces with a motley crew of workers from the old Savoy Hotel.
McNulty has once more run afoul of the powers that be in the New York City hotel and restaurant industry and finds himself exiled to a down-at-the heels hotel in, for him, the far reaches of civilization---Manhattan, west of Eighth Avenue. Not long into his tenure, a vicious attack on one of his fellow bartenders raises the stakes and puts everyone on edge, and it doesn't take much for the hotel manager to provoke the outraged workers into a strike. Once they hit the bricks, all hell breaks loose, and it isn't long until the bodies start to fall.
The cops focus in on two of McNulty's pals, a renegade Irishman and a pretty, young waitress from Brooklyn, both with closets full of secrets and buckets full of problems of their own. McNulty thinks the cops, as usual, are barking up the wrong tree, but that's the least of his problems. The hits in this particular instance have angered the gods of gangsterland, and someone has determined that McNulty is a problem.
Trouble is brewing at Brian McNulty's new gig at the Savoy Hotel in Lehane's intriguing third mystery to feature the New York bartender (after 2005's What Goes Around Comes Around). Fellow barman and union rabble-rouser Barney Saunders suspects the hotel's new manager is cashing in on corruption between union bigwigs and organized crime. An all-out strike turns violent when flirty waitress Betsy Tierney rushes to commiserate with Barney on the picket line, and her jealous husband, one of New York's finest, attacks Barney, who's then loyally defended by Brian. That evening, the hotel manager and Betsy's cop husband are both murdered, and Barney becomes the prime suspect. McNulty investigates, suspecting a union middleman of both murders. Lehane does a good job of depicting the underbelly of the city's working class. Readers will look forward to more outings from his world-weary, savvy and imperfect protagonist.