As Sam Acquillo tells us in the early pages of Back Lash, "Not everyone gets to live their adult lives orbiting a central mystery." But that's how it's been for Sam, whose entire existence has been defined by a single, horrific event. Now that event has reached out from the deep past, an unwanted visitor, and Sam is forced to unpack, like a Russian doll, secrets within secrets, each more ominous than the one before. What is revealed would be disturbing enough were it not also so personal-not a welcome development for a man who once said, "Avoidance, rationalization, and denial are highly underrated coping strategies." The action moves from Southampton to the Bronx, where Sam once prowled in the part-time care of his father, owner of a truck-repair business and of a temper that stood out even on the mean streets. It's here that Sam learns that evil history doesn't only repeat itself, it can improve upon the original; that no matter how things change, the world of cops and criminals, priests, power brokers, wise guys, and even wiser old bartenders stays the same-or gets much, much worse.