This novel is like a nasty bar fight that ends before you realize you were the one right in the thick of it. Written in four parts (originally printed in Playboy as a series), not a sentence is wasted. It’s full of guns, frauds, sex and liquor. Jimmy Luntz is an obsessive gambler, and a quartet singer. Anita Desilvera embezzled a huge chunk of change and drinks beer to get sober. Jimmy gets picked up by a guy named Gambol, but that’s not the biggest irony of the book. Jimmy shoots Gambol and steals his wallet, and his Cadillac. In the most broken down situations, right when his characters are at their absolute end, Johnson gives a line like, “She stepped under the shower and would have stayed there forever but the bulb in the ceiling blew and in the dimness under the falling water she thought she saw fireflies clambering from the drain and coming at her face.” By the end, you don’t want this story to go on, but it’s perfect in its tight package—a fine example of what magazine writing used to be, and should be again.