Marti MacAlister's extended family is all a-twitter. Her best friend Sharon has eloped to the Bahamas with handsome slickster DeVonte Lutrell without telling her AIDS-stricken mother or her teenaged daughter Lisa, who's temporarily bunking at Marti's. Meantime, the latest homicide that Marti and her white partner Vik Jessenovik have caught isn't much of a corpse—just a bit of an arm with traces of blue paint and metallic silver that send the Lincoln Prairie cops scouring the arts community for news of a missing painter or photographer. When they discover three other arm-only cases over a 20-year span, their interrogation of local artists Lucy, Nan, and Arlene leads to Arlene's death, Nan's debunking, and Lucy's cranky insistence that she was as good a painter as any of them, even her long-dead mother. Off in the Bahamas, Sharon finds she hates water, boats, sunning, and swimming, and almost drowns when DeVonte turns his back on her in the ocean. Just before a threatened hurricane hits, DeVonte, who's discovered he'd have to share Sharon's 401K plan with her daughter if she died, invites Lisa to Freeport. As soon as she casts a cold eye on DeVonte, Lisa phones home, bringing Marti and her love Ben out to save the girls, and leaving Vik stateside to wrap up those arms. There'll be a suicide in Lincoln Prairie and bodies galore tossed into the ocean before Sharon and Lisa return to watch the AIDS sufferer slip into eternal relief.
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