Scanning his patch of the New Hampshire shoreline a few days after the Petro Star runs aground and disgorges its refined cargo on the beach, Lewis Cole, the Pentagon bureaucrat who's been pensioned off to Shoreline magazine to keep him quiet about what happened to the rest of his agency, finds a new pollutant: the headless, handless body of a diver. To Lewis's two self-imposed chores--finding out who's the mysterious majority owner of Petro Associates, and identifying the corpse somebody was so determined to keep anonymous--his ill-connected friend Felix Tinios adds a third: to help him deal with a threatening correspondent who wants to know the location of a safe house where Felix admits he's got something awfully valuable stashed. It's not long before inquisitive Lewis has figured out where the house is and what's inside--three Winslow Homer canvases, the fruits of a robbery at the Scribner Museum five years back. But then the fun's just begun, as coyly protesting Felix drags Lewis deeper and deeper into danger, and Lewis, interviewing the Scribner staff and dodging bullets from Felix's business associates, finds to his astonishment that his three cases are all connected--and all lead to the insider who's bent on recovering the canvases at any cost. Lewis (Dead Sand, p. 342) is still prone to dour flashbacks to his Agency days. Somebody should tell the guy to lighten up- -after all, he's starring in one of the most sharply plotted mysteries of the season.