In his first day on the job as court reporter for the Kennebec Observer, former Times newsman Jack McMorrow (Bloodline, 1995, etc.) files a story featuring battered Donna Marchant. Bad idea. Jeff Tanner, the ex-boyfriend responsible for Donna's bruises and bite marks, returns to tell her he'll kill both her and McMorrow, and he and some friends pay a call on McMorrow, too. Prosecutor Linda Tate is too busy protecting her turf to offer any help; you can almost hear her sigh of relief when Donna, after increasingly frantic cries for help, finally gets herself killed, and Tate can talk tough about arresting Tanner and throwing away the key. But McMorrow, a latter-day Galahad (``they might lock Jeff up for twenty years, but that wasn't enough if they didn't treat Donna with respect'') whose idea of detection is to ask the suspects if they suffocated Donna while he looks them right in the eye, isn't satisfied, especially after he gets kidnapped from under Tate's eye, beaten up, and left for dead by a pair of lowlifes who return, just to show they're not kidding, and burn his house down. Together with social worker Roxanne Masterson, who's taken a job down in Portland but knows when to stand by her man, he keeps squeezing and squeezing until nobody's left standing but the killer. Boyle's third doesn't exactly blaze new trails, but he's got McMorrow's sensitive shtick down cold. For all his manly virtue, you can't help liking the guy.