This is a nifty no-frills thriller that should have grabbed me more than it did. Perhaps I was looking for more insight in school shootings, considering that was the basis of the plot. Instead we have a former mercenary investigating an odd shooting of a popular high school boy by an equally popular girl. Needless to say, there is a hidden reason behind the shooting. The author does a nice job in exploring certain elements such as social pressure and hidden town secrets. Yet I found the protagonists to be not all that sympathetic (girl or mercenary) and I didn't always believe the mercenary's motives. He was a little too cold for my taste. Add on a courtroom drama in the latter part of the novel where Vachss packs the deck with unbelievably stupid prosecutors and the ending comes out too predictable and too pat. Yet Vachss has a realistic if somewhat cynical style that I like. I may try his Burke series which I have heard raves about. Until then...good thriller but not out of the ballpark.