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Before his demotion, Joe McKeefe was a celebrated and highly decorated detective who had been recognized as a rising star in the police department. Now he was finishing his career as a uniformed patrol officer in the precinct with city?s highest crime rate, a place where the murder of a low-life junkie was so common as to be almost trivial.

This victim, however, was different: he had once been McKeefe?s informant.

McKeefe is disgusted by the superficial manner in which the official murder investigation is handled, so he begins to poke around. But this murder isn?t as insignificant as it appeared-in fact, it?s collateral damage from an elaborate scheme, the players of which are a crooked narcotics sergeant and the city?s major drug dealers. They have different motivations: the sergeant?s all-consuming and obsessive lust for money is only matched by the drug dealers? fixation with staying out of prison. But neither side has even the slightest concern for human life.

As McKeefe?s probe continues, he discovers that a pawn in the plan is his only brother, a criminal defense lawyer who, in McKeefe?s words, ?lives off crime and defends slime.?

Unwittingly, McKeefe?s good intentions slowly but irreversibly drag him deeper and deeper into the quagmire. Before long, he finds he has jeopardized himself, his brother, his partner, and possibly the entire police department.

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