This novel was written just before the author's death and unlike his other novels the main character is no longer Chinaski. (Though Chinaski does make a brief appearance at the start.)
In the foreground, it is a book about a private detective in LA. You see all the provado, attitude and worldliness of the main character Nicky Belane.
The book however is a meditation on death. One line in the book states that there is no such thing as winners and losers, there are only apparent winners.
There are references here to other writers too. Even Bukowski's literary hero Celine is tracked down and taken out of the game by Lady Death. Unlike ancient Greece, even heros fail to obtain immortality.
Death is metamorphised as a sexy and sophisticated woman. While this is a way of referencing Kafka, it also describes how imagination works to conceal the naked reality of life. The creative process is only a side on look at 'reality.' One can never quite look straight into the sun.
The redemptative feature of this work is that it undermines all the posturing and explicit egotism of the private dick.
The book is dedicated to bad writing. One can not help but feel that Bukowski is looking back on his life and his writing and trying to make some sense of it. He is searching for clues but ultimately loses.