Tough and twisty crime melodrama in which a man avenges his wife's murder--and in which Eidson proves he's a craftier writer than his crudely psychosexual first novel (The Little Brother, 1990) let on. Narrator/hero Riley Burke has clawed his way up from poverty to co-ownership (with Nick Daniels) of a top Boston ad agency, but his marriage to beautiful Ellen has eroded along the way--and now Riley's ready to cheat, with young employee Rachel Perry. As Riley and Rachel prepare to sail on Riley's yacht, a stranger--known only as ""Cracker""--attacks one Cory Dearborn on the dock. Acting the hero for Rachel, Riley jumps in and beats up Cracker, who vows revenge--which ironically begins as a shook-up Rachel refuses to sleep with Riley. The next day, real trouble starts when Riley finds Cory's body lashed to the propeller of his boat, a bag of cocaine stuffed in his mouth. The cops immediately suspect Riley of drug-dealing, an idea they can't shake even after Cracker kidnaps Ellen and holds a knife to her throat, demanding the return of some coke: he thinks Riley stole the drugs in league with Cory. Riley's dog fights off Cracker, but, days later, partner Nick proves less effective when Cracker and a goon track Ellen and Nick to a country hideout, wounding Nick but killing Ellen. Enraged, Riley bulls his way along a tangled path--including romancing two of Cory's old flames--that winds up in his murdering the goon in cold blood and Nick shooting Cracker dead. The end? Not quite: in the story's last and biggest surprise of many, Riley has one more enemy to kill.... The ensuing climax features too much explanatory talk, but Riley's final act is as clever and stunningly violent as most of the rest of this slick, fast-paced, cinematic tale.