Dennis Lehane creates a rough world for this first in the "Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro" series. It's a world of hard and fast racism, animosity and contempt, where licentiousness is a way of life. It's not a pleasant place. In all of that however, Lehane manages to put two gratifying and amusingly cynical private investigators to solve the problems in the world.
Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired by a sycophantic politician to find a missing office cleaning woman and some "documents" she is accused of stealing. However, they quickly find out it's not that black and white when Kenzie is almost beat to death on the way home, and the next day a violent gang war breaks out. As the case progresses, the P.I's start to wonder why these politicians are so interested in the missing woman and a seemingly innocuous picture she hands them, and what it has to do with the upcoming street terrorism bill waiting to be voted on in the senate. As they wade through all of the pretense, they quickly see there is a lot more going on than they were led to believe, and none of it is pretty.
The story is hard, and impossible to believe in the way that those of us who live in a secure and relatively sedate world don't understand, but is not without meaning or a valid point...a point well made I thought.
A Drink Before the War
(Currently about to start Laurie R. King's A Monstrous Regiment of Women)