The Vietnamese shrimper found dead in his shack seems far too inoffensive to have been a murder victim. But Nguyen Bao Do's daughter Tran can't believe her father, a war-hardened survivor, would have shot himself, so Jefferson County, Tex., deputy Tom Poole rouses himself from his divorce-addled funk and investigates. And finds two surprises: Tran's sympathetic neighbor Adrienne Deveraux, with whom he slips into an affair; and 200 pounds of Jamaican gold, which he stumbles over in an unofficial search of Tran's boat for Bao Do's missing Colt .22. Poole's dilemma--all that reefer, and not a search warrant in sight--drives him away from his leering sheriff, Daddy John Lister, and Daddy John's bubba son Darnell, and into the arms of DEA agent D.J. Donald, in the hope of nailing Everett Teagarden, a rival shrimper (and drug mule?) who'd already made waves by vandalizing Vietnamese boats. But Teagarden responds to surveillance by getting killed, and when Jerry Donovan, Bao Do's son-in-law, moves up from petty larceny to homicide victim himself, it looks like Bao Do's going to get lost in the DEA shuffle. Why would anybody moving drugs along the Gulf coast have stopped to snuff out the old man? A break from Dold's Mitch Roberts series (The World Beat, 1993, etc.) that's equally moody and atmospheric, equally depressive, and equally unlikely to win the author any invitations from the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce.