When the two-bit police force of Luster, Texas, picks up Wesley Joy for speeding, pulls him in for the smidgen of heroin they find, and learns that the car he’s driving was spotted leaving a drug-killing scene, Wesley, “lawyer to the stars of scum,” is in a pickle. His wife Angelique, he tells his old buddy Jack Flippo, could give him alibi if only he could raise her on the family boat she’s sailing off Galveston. So Jack (Umbrella Man, 1999, etc.) teams up with Galveston Tribune reporter Miranda Glass, eager to climb out of the doghouse by breaking the story about Wesley’s innocence, to track her down. But Wesley, who can’t wait for Jack to deliver, breaks out of jail; the cop he beats up on the way out the door turns up dead at a bogus rendezvous with Jack; and Angelique, Jack gradually realizes, may have reasons of her own for being so hard to find. When there’s no honor among thieves, dealers, killers, or old buddies, it’s up to Jack and Miranda, who “looked like the kind of girl you could take home to Mom if Mom had a taste for girls who puffed Winstons and swore,” to sort out the guilty from the not-quite-so-guilty.
Even though it’s more straightforward that most of Jack’s Hiaasenesque carnivals of crime, this one shows once more the folly of stocking your barrel with ordinary fish when you could fill it with fish who swim in circles, kill each other, and stick out their tongues.