Third in this series set in Nantucket, where Meredith Folger is a detective in the small police force headed by her father John (Death in Rough Water, 1995, etc.). During the quiet off-season, a skull and some bones are dug up on the beach by a dog belonging to the Markham family--widow Julia, a taciturn chain-smoker, and her children, 11-year-old Cecil and his younger sister Nan. Husband Ian, a sculptor, died eight years ago when his boat sank in a squall, at a time when his affair with rich and beautiful Dr. Elizabeth Osborne was general gossip fodder. Elizabeth also vanished on that stormy night, never to be seen again. The FBI, following the trail of a serial killer, takes an interest in the Nantucket find, sending their expert forensic psychiatrist Dr. Tucker Enright to the scene. The skull is identified as that of Elizabeth; strangulation, it would seem, was the cause of death. Meredith interviews Elizabeth's husband Jack in Boston, and is startled to discover that Enright too had known and loved Elizabeth--all of them having been members of Cambridge's intellectual community. Matters take on a more immediate and threatening tone when--even as the Boston police have jailed a promising suspect in the serial killer case--two women on the island are found strangled and Meredith becomes the target of slyly threatening letters. A byzantine plot that defies compression eventually leads to great peril for Meredith in a gripping, edge- of-your-seat climax. Leisurely and literate--though a shade too heavy on introspection and psychobabble, with too many unlikely twists and turns in the plotting. But nonetheless absorbing.