Dee's morally inquisitive and suspenseful novels, including The Liberty Campaign (1993), are a feast for the mind, blending compelling characters, revelatory situations, and bracing social commentary. Here, in this brilliant tale of two men caught first in the web of urban violence, then in the rush of media hype, Dee examines our methods for coping with life's galling arbitrariness and the repercussions of rage, egocentricity, and predation. Paul Soloway, an all but unpublished writer, tries to remove himself from the fray by devoting himself to art for art's sake. His wife supports him and their two young sons as best she can, but Manhattan is expensive and her salary and patience are being stretched to the limit. Then, abruptly, everything changes. Paul wanders into the epicenter of a riot and ends up being held hostage and severely beaten. The media goes into a frenzy, and Paul finds himself with a six-figure book contract and an artistic dilemma. Meanwhile his assailant, Victor, heretofore peaceful and hardworking, finds himself turned into an unlikely hero by his grandstanding celebrity lawyer. As Dee adeptly dramatizes the implications and ironies of all this, he concludes, ultimately, that stories have a life of their own that no amount of exploitation can smother.