Jumping genres (after last year's exuberant sf Timelapse), Nighbert proves just as adept with mysteries, here creating a sassy-mouthed, hard-boiled story of mayhem and revenge in Galveston, Texas. Ex-ballplayer Bill ""Bull"" Cochran (he quit when one of his pitches killed a batter) is spared, but his cook-the-books partner Juice is murdered when masked men enter their moving/storage warehouse. Whodunit? Juice owed several gamblers big-time bucks, had a few enemies among the bodyguards surrounding Julius Brauer (a homosexual ""businessman"" with Central American connections), and was desperate to reclaim two suitcases he'd hidden at the warehouse--except that they'd been moved, and he couldn't find them. With friendly advice from Detective Molly Flanagan; beatings from Brauer's associates; lies from good friends Gareth and Syb (a conniving physician and his trendy wife), Cochran comes close to unraveling a tawdry tale of antiques and drugs, then is thrown for a loop when Juice's death ties into a family vendetta harking back to his baseball debacle--and culminates with a saddened reappraisal of friend Gareth. As powerful as a punch to the kidneys (of which there are many), with plot surprises that are actually surprising and twists to make anyone squirm. Superior stuff, even though Cochran and Molly turn gooey.