Gliding on his pension and reflecting on his life, Mario Balzic wishes he could start all over. He's about to get his wish. Balzic is haunting his home, driving his wife, Ruth, crazy. She wants him out of the house, but she doesn't want him back in law enforcement. Balzic's haunting Muscotti's, driving Vinnie the bartender crazy. He's at the tavern, a man whose single greatest asset is time on his hands, when Deputy Attorney General Warren Livingood, the well-dressed refugee from Philadelphia's Main Line, walks in - and makes his case to western Pennsylvania's crankiest and canniest ex-cop. Seventeen years before, a drug deal went sour in a mountain log cabin, yielding two corpses and an ensuing history of mistrials, appeals, and verdict reversals. Now a variety of cons from a variety of prisons are spilling several variations on this single sorry tale. The stench of police misconduct and coerced perjury is in the air. High political reputations are on the line. As a former professional with no debts to settle, Balzic is the man for the job. Livingood gives him the title of special investigator, state credentials, and thirty-five dollars an hour. It seems like the answer to everyone's prayers. Then Balzic's jailhouse interviews lead him into a jurisdiction that could be the devil's own. There he confronts his counterpart, but hardly his brother: a small-town police chief, now paralyzed by stroke, who in his prime ruled his borough by blood and terror. In uncovering the history of one monster in human form, Balzic will enter his personal heart of darkness - and shoulder a staggering debt that will be hell to pay.
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