I've already mentioned one thing about this book set in May 1950 that struck me as a false note. Here's another one. At one point the narrator mentions someone's 45 rpm records as if they're quite common. The fact is that RCA didn't introduce 45s until 1949, and it took quite a while for them to catch on. Folks in 1950 didn't latch onto new technology the way they do now. Things like that don't mean the novel's not good. They just mean that I'm jerked out of the story when I read them, but then I'm an old fart. Probably nobody else who reads the book will even notice.
As for the book itself, it's narrated by Josphine (Joe) Flannigan. She's supposedly hired to look for a missing daughter, and one way to look at the book is as a variation on the paperback p.i. novel of the '50s since Joe certainly functions pretty much as a p.i. in the story. But she's not. She's a former hooker and cleaned-up junkie who knows her way around the seamy side of New York. As it turns out, the missing daughter gig isn't what it seemed, so the p.i. aspect of the book is probably canceled out by that, I suppose.
What I liked most about the book is the unsentimental view of all the people in The Life, whores, pimps, thieves, junkies. I also liked the straighforward narrative and the idea of a noir novel being told by a woman instead of a man. If I knew where the story was headed long before Joe, maybe that's because I've read a lot of old Gold Medal books. It's still a good story, well told.