Whenever there’s a murder near Lewis Cole’s Tyler Beach home, the ex-Government spook goes on full alert. And why not? After all, he’s the only freelance writer in New Hampshire who has to know what was done to whom, and where the metaphoric body is likely to be buried. When a covey of hard-eyed, arrogant types identifying themselves as Drug Enforcement Agency officials peremptorily warn him off this time, Lewis just digs in deeper—especially when he learns that those DEA credentials are phony and that the murder in question is connected to thugs even more dangerous than the Mafia. Then suddenly, to his astonishment, Lewis finds himself in demand. Not only are his services wanted, he’s informed, but if he attempts to withhold them, he could lose his bank accounts, his government pension, and his house. He’s needed for two reasons: (1) his familiarity with the region, and (2) his brilliance, amply demonstrated when he put in time as a Defense Department brainiac. Just who’s requesting the pleasure of his company? They won’t say, and it takes a while before Lewis can penetrate that particular stone wall. When he does, however, he realizes he has no choice but to form an ad hoc alliance with powers he distrusts in order to save the MacGuffin.
The pace drags, the plotting is predictable, and if too-good-to-be-true Lewis (Shattered Shell, 1999, etc.) doesn’t watch out, he’s going to turn into a crashing bore.