But don't count that Irish sea wolf out just yet. Even though it's been a full half century since he bamboozled Angus Rehm out of a king's ransom in gold and jewels, Clement Ford's never let his guard down. The Englishman, long settled with his blind wife Breege on Ireland's lonely Clare Island, has tempered his works of mercy--his Clare Island Trust has generously supported Breege's quadriplegic relation Paul O'Malley and dozens of other unfortunates in their troubles--with unflinching vigilance. Now that Paul's reported a suspicious craft approaching the island, Ford's prepared to fight for his life and the Trust, a treasure he tells his unfortunate confidante Mirna Gottschalk was never Rehm's in the first place. What he's not prepared for is the danger to so many people close to him, people Rehm and his three grown children will kill without remorse in pursuit of Ford's hoard. When their initial frontal assault fails, the Rehms simply switch tactics and masquerade as relatives in the O'Malley Rally. It all adds up to a bit of a drag for Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr (Death of an Ardent Bibliophile, 1995, etc.), who has to put most of his considerable gifts on hold while he counts the casualties and waits for the battle between Ford and the Rehms to trail off into the most extended, and unnecessary, confession since The Sign of the Four. Lesser work from a pro, with the wild Clare Island background the chief attraction.