In Lott’s follow-up to his coming-of-age/murder mystery The Hunt Club (1998, etc.), Huger Dillard, now a grown man but not exactly mature, confronts another murder 10 years later.
Huger, 27, has never quite begun his life since the trauma of killing a man at 17. He dropped out of college and has no real career. He now lives with his newly rich mother and father “Unc” in the exclusive golfing community Landgrave outside Charleston and pines for his lost love, African-American Tabitha, now getting her post-doc at Stanford. Approaching the golf course by boat late one night—Unc likes to practice when no one is around—Unc and Huger find a woman’s body floating in the marsh. Not only do the police show up, but also some intimidating naval officers from the U.S. Naval Weapons Station across the water. They were watching Unc and Huger in their boat through night goggles like the ones Unc won playing poker against base Commander Prendergast during a weekly game hosted by the father of Tabitha’s current beau. After finding the body, Huger comes home to find Prendergast alone with his mother and creepily solicitous. Meanwhile there’s another body found the same night, a man in the trunk of his car. Are the two deaths connected? Huger wants to figure out what is going on, but mostly he wants to get Unc to his weekly poker game where Unc intends to get those military-property goggles back to Prendergast—or does he? Up until a point, the novel leans toward the slightly hangdog humor of Huger’s slacker life, but suddenly in a rush of plot background and forced dialogue comes a terrorism-centered plot full of traitors and stereotypically nasty Muslims in sleeper cells.
Huger is an appealing narrator, but his story of finding himself is only moderately interesting, and the tacked-on thriller is cartoonish.