Deaf N.Y.C. detective Joe Binney (A Piece of the Silence, etc.) goes south--for an unshapely but mostly absorbing mixture of small-town charm, big-time embezzlement, and hefty gothic secrets. Joe's initial client is a Manhattan publisher--who wants to know why textbook salesman Charlie Welland died in a car wreck down in Caunotaucarius County. . .and what happened to $150,000 worth of missing books. Few of the locals give the Northern shamus a warm welcome, of course; he very nearly becomes a hit-and-run victim. But it isn't long before Joe zeroes in on the slimy local politico who had teamed up with the salesman in a nasty scare (leading to greedy murder). Meanwhile, however, there's been another not-so-accidental death in town: splendid Miss Rutledge, Secretary of Education and village historian, is the sole fatality when a civil building blows up--and the prime suspect is pathetic loon Honey Lewis, who's been seriously disturbed since he suffered an enigmatic childhood-trauma down in the local mine. So Joe, hired now by Honey's father, sets out to determine who really blew up that building. And the investigation soon focuses on Lewis family-history, on mine-ownership politics, and above all on the causes of Honey's bygone psychic scars. Two mini-mysteries stitched together, only half-smoothly--but the talented Livingston again provides a rich supporting cast, patches of taut action (Joe scuba-dives an abandoned mine), and strong narration for somber yet humorous Joe (who downplays his handicap effectively).