New York's Alphabet City is a magnet for desperate hustlers, con men, and lastchance addicts. Payton Sherwood knows that scene. But Payton also lives by awhiteknight creed derived from the heroes of golden age detective fiction. And like those renowned hardboiled private eyes, he is riddled with lossthe loss of an old love who still exists in daydreams, and the loss of a city he barely recognizes. Payton takes a wrong turn on a side street and stumbles into trouble in the form of three bullnecked heavies and a tough sixteenyearold runaway named Gloria Manlow. After taking a savage beating, he tracks Gloria through Alphabet City, where the shadows that frighten aren't those that shade the street, but rather the soul. Payton's dusktodawn nightmare on the wild side is about to beginand nothing will stop it but death.