Manhattan Beach explores many topics--the role of women in the war effort, racketeering, and the meaning of family.
In the "shadow" world that Dexter Styles inhabits, Styles is the top of the food chain who can indifferently make people disappear. For every gangster, though, who thinks he is at the top, there is someone else more omnipotent.
In Dexter's case there's the mysterious Mr. Q and his sons and even someone much closer to home that can change the landscape of Dexter's world.
But this novel is not simply about gangsters. Manhattan Beach is also about the incredible sacrifices families makes for their loved ones.
Mrs. Kerrigan gives up a career she loves with the Ziegfeld Follies to raise her daughters, one of whom is severely disabled.
Eddie Kerrigan chooses to make another sacrifice; one that leaves his favorite daughter, Anna, bereft and angry.
Anna had always been close to her father. She was his accomplice at twelve when he meets Dexter Styles at his Manhattan beach house. That incredible meeting is forever seared in Anna's mind and will alter the course of her father's life and her own.
Despite resistance from the top brass, Anna works in the Naval Yard, choosing to dive and repair ships.
Later, she will make an even riskier dive that will take her to the heart of the mystery of her father's disappearance.