A murder plunges two teen-agers into the middle of an incipient race war--but that's just the skeletal framework for this meaty first novel. On drifter Mote's twice-yearly swings into town, he's taught Chris and Billy how to fish, build a cabin, and deal with physical pain or life's hard moments. Now he stands accused of a brutal white-supremacist's murder. Sure of Mote's innocence, the boys decide to ""help"" the investigation--but the stakes turn deadly: Chris is kidnapped and tortured; his captor is later linked to a black militant group. By the end, hard cases on both sides have been rounded up (along with plenty of stashed munitions), while Mote is exonerated and the real killer unmasked--but not before Reaver weaves in a bundle of topical themes and subplots: budding romance, sex, athletics, religion, racism (both subtle and overt), and much more. Though the killing becomes a minor item, the story's pace never falters, and a sassy, freewheeling cast creates plenty of funny dialogue along the way. Some of the violence (including a gun battle with a rapist) is gratuitous; otherwise, a solidly entertaining story, packed with incident and ideas.