Themes of family and loyalty provide a nice counterbalance to the gruesome violence (wood chipper, anyone?) in The Last Jew Standing, the fourth excellent offering from lit noir master Michael Simon. The action begins when small-time hoodlum Ben Reles shows up on the doorstep of his son, Lieutenant Dan Reles, of the Austin Police Department, after a twenty-year absence. No paragon of parenthood, Ben and a platinum-haired Russian hooker have come to the Capital City on the run from Sam Zelig, the sole surviving boss of the Jewish crime syndicate in Elmira, New York. But Dan is no Ward Cleaver either—and there are echoes of his troubled childhood in the dysfunctional household he has set up with drunkie-druggie girlfriend Rachel and their untrusting four-year-old son, Josh. When the bullets and bombs inevitably fly, Simon proves that blood is not only thicker than water but is just as easily spilled. Viking, $25.95