Down and Dirty
is the fifth book in the Wild Cards
anthology series, set in the same shared universe as the other Wild Cards novels and collections. It was edited by George R. R. Martin.
The stories in this volume tell of the events in New York City involving two outbreaks; the outbreak of a gang war between the Mafia and the Shadow Fists gangs controlled by Kien Phuc, a war which soon spills out of control into the streets of New York. Against this backdrop, the second outbreak occurs; the outbreak of a new, mutant strain of Wild Card virus, courtesy of the ever-shifting powers of The Sleeper, "Typhoid Croyd" Crenson. This version is different in that it can overwrite the original strain, so that even Aces and Jokers are not safe.
The stories that make up this book are:
- Only the Dead Know Jokertown: A recurring story that sees Yeoman infiltrate the gang that killed the woman he loved.
- All the King's Horses: A recurring story that sees the Turtle attempt to get his confidence back.
- Concerto for Siren and Serotonin: A recurring story that sees The Sleeper working for the mob and unwittingly spreading chaos.
- Breakdown: Bagabond and Sewer Jack are dragged into the gang war by mutual friend, Rosemary Muldoon.
- Jesus was an Ace: Reverend Leo Barnett saves the life of a Joker.
- Blood Ties: A recurring story that sees Dr. Tachyon help Jokertown defend against the encroaching gang war.
- The Second Coming of Buddy Holly: An AIDS-Wild Card awareness concert in Jokertown has dramatic implications for everyone, most of all fading star, Buddy Holly.
- The Hue of a Mind: An arabic Ace arrives in America within designs upon Hartmann's life.
- Addicted to Love: Ta Malice searches for new mounts in New York.
- Takedown: Rosemary's allies turn on her as the war goes against the mob.
- Mortality: Modular Man must conquer his fear of death to capture The Sleeper and his deadly new ally.
This book contains the following tropes:
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Buddy Holly gets the Wildcard virus.
- Blessed with Suck: Water Lilly.
- Break the Cutie: Water Lilly, again.
- Face-Heel Turn: Rosemary Muldoon
- Cursed with Awesome: The Snotman becomes an Ace, which indebts him to the Sleeper.
- More particularly with Hiram and Water Lilly who become addicted to Ti Malice's orgasmic bliss-inducing kiss.
- Fantastic Racism: As usual, Jokers get a lot of this.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Roulette.
- Healing Hands: Leo Barnett thinks he has this ability. In fact, he doesn't.
- Hypocrite: Leo Barnett is introduced having sex with one of his congregation.
- Karma Houdini: Rosemary Muldoon.
- Killed Off for Real: Roulette.
- Psycho for Hire: The Sleeper, unusually, gets this role.
- The Mafia: Plays a major role in the book. Specifically, it gets its butt kicked.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. Buddy Holly is a washed up bum who loses the rights to his music rights and ends up covering Prince in Holiday Inns. By the end of the novel, he's made a bunch of new material and become a shaman ace.
- Jumped Off The Slippery Slope: Rosemary Muldoon.
- Rape as Drama: Water Lilly must now live with this threat, for the rest of her natural life.
- Specifically, sex with her cures Joker status.
- The Virus: The Wild Card virus reappears here with horrifying results.