As his debut (A Rock and a Hard Place, 1999) ended, Agent Barrett Raines, of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was in a bad way. The fade-in now finds him unimproved: separated from his adored wife Laura Anne, on the outs with his trusted partner Cricket, drinking too much, smoking too much, even blowing off his job, something he never imagined he'd do—and blaming it all on Laura Anne. If only she hadn't decamped to Deacon Beach, stranding him in Tallahassee—taking with her the twins, Barrett's total psychological support system—he'd still be making it. But Deacon Beach, Laura Anne insists, is Afro-friendly, while in Tallahassee diversity just means different shades of tan. Chained to a desk, career in limbo, Barrett's life appears stuck at dismal when an unexpectedly brutal murder and a few stolen millions spell opportunity, and before you know it, Barrett is tooling around remote Dead Man's Bay, surrounded by an endless assortment of thoroughly mendacious suspects who in one way or another make a new man of him. In due time, he catches his murderer, cracks his case, clicks again with Cricket, and wends his way home to a Laura Anne suddenly eager to play Penelope to his Ulysses.
It’s nice for Barrett, not so nice for the rest of us. There’s loose plotting, weak writing, and as for Barrett's sleuthing, one of his suspects says it best: “Mr. Raines, for a detective you seem a slow man.”