When ancient, opportunistic river-man Horace Boller pulls a dead man out of the river Calle, Aird's Detective Inspector Sloan and dogsbody Crosby soon learn that death was caused by a fall (not drowning). But it takes them quite a while to identify the body as Peter Hinton, fiancÃ‰ of Elizabeth Busby--who shares Collerton House with her uncle-in-law, architect Frank Mundill. Could Hinton's death be connected to the recent goings-on at Collerton House--where the boathouse has been broken into, with a missing dinghy turning up miles away? And what about the strange, very old copper ingot found on Hinton's body? Could it be true that the wreck of a legendary 18th-century ship has secretly surfaced in the neighborhood? A neat little plot--and it all comes together once Elizabeth finds Horace Boller's body in an under-used shed. . . and finds herself in danger. But, as in other recent Sloans, the action here is almost smothered by Aird's increasing penchant for self-indulgent asides and mini-lectures--so only those with a high tolerance for a slow pace will stick around for the satisfying windup.