While this book never dazzled, or developed much reach beyond the straight-line semi-pulp of its alcohol-soaked narrator's voice, I was drawn in and along by Bell's clear, engaging writing. A film editor is called out of retirement by an old sort-of, shady friend, sent on a mission to cut away and through the mess in a documentary film on junkies in Rome. Like many such plots, without ballooning into allegory, the mess and the cutting through replicate in other plot entanglements (smuggling drugs and money) and in the undercurrents of existentialist chatter which seep through the narrator's boozy reflections. (He reads Kierkegaard, which is maybe laying it on a bit thick.)
My favorite bits were the no-nonsense (and almost no-exposition) accounts of the machinery and methodology of film editing; without that hook, the book reminded me (to its comparative detriment) of James Crumley. I was leaning between ok and liked, and I think I'll bump low (reminding myself again of Crumley, I think less fondly of the book), so ok--but it was a decent novel, and an interesting character-driven contrast to what the Hard Case cover might have suggested.