A crisp and tart tale of a Vermont cop's fall and redemption that's as different in mood and theme from Koenig's Little Odessa (1988) as that bittersweet crime-comedy was from his outstanding Elmore Leonard done, Floater (1986). In Cabot County police lieut. Larry St. Germain, Koenig's created his most raw and real hero--a cocky cop who bends the law like a pretzel to achieve justice. St. Germain meets his match, however, in young psycho Paul Conklin, who opens this swift novel by raping and strangling a pretty young hitchhiker. When a local hillbilly fingers Conklin, St. Germain disregards orders and goes after the killer with only a greenhorn cop, Jeffcoat, for back-up. In a nightmarish sequence that leans heavily on Wambaugh's The Onion Field, St. Germain loses his gun and, in a fit of cowardice, his honor as Conklin captures both cops and forces them into deep country--where he kills Jeffcoat as St. Germain turns tail and hides. The lieutenant finds no solace in Conklin's subsequent arrest; spurned by his fellow cops, he quits the force and takes a job first as a tree-sapper and then as an ambulance jockey, all the while wrestling with his conscience and with the upscale yearnings of his loving but ambitious mate, Annie. Meanwhile, in prison, Conklin plans and executes a tense breakout. With his brother and three other cons in tow, the psycho goes on a murderous rampage and heads towards Canada. But on his way north, he crosses paths with--who else?--St. Germain, who leaps at the chance to reclaim his honor in a bloody, brutal conclusion. Predictable plotting and spasms of gratuitous violence make this less rewarding than Koenig's previous work; still, the sharp characterizations, resonant dialogue, and strong suspense will further his reputation as one of the best of the new crime writers.