It’s winter in Tyler Beach, New Hampshire. The tourists have all gone home, and the hotels they stayed in are empty. And vulnerable. So somebody starts burning them down. As always when nastiness breaks out in Tyler Beach, former Defense Department hot shot (read ex-spook) Lewis Cole feels duty-bound to involve himself. Involvement ratchets up considerably when Lewis receives a phone call from close friend Diane Woods, the town’s lone female detective, famous for unflappability. Not so this night, because she’s also the lover of Kara Miles, who’s just been raped. Diane makes a strong bid for Lewis’s expertise. Which means that catching an arsonist goes on the back burner, so to speak, replaced by the more urgent need to catch a rapist. Where to start? What special kind of low-life are they looking for? These two questions become knottier when Lewis faces the chilling fact that Kara’s account of the rape is not only vague but intentionally confusing. Who is she protecting? Lewis turns for help to the slick, mob-connected Felix Tenios, a scalawag, it’s true, but one who has earned Lewis’s trust (Black Tide, 1995, etc.). Together, they knock on doors, stumble on a corpse, and manage to get themselves arrested for murder. In the end, though, they catch Tyler Beach’s rapist—who, of course, is criminally connected to Tyler Beach’s arsonist. Dubois will ramble from time to time, but he plots respectably. And there are enough sides to his hero to hold your interest.