Talk about starting with a bang. Within ten pages, Mississippi riverboat Captain Luke Williamson has fished the body of lady-of-the-evening Cassie Pierce from under the Paragon's paddlewheel; he and Pierce's colleague, Salina Tyner, have speculated about why she was strangled and thrown overboard; and Memphis detective Ben Crawford has arrested his Negro first mate, Jacob Lusk, for murder. In a flash, Williamson has hired Confederate veteran Masey Baldridge, temporarily between drinks and jobs for the Mid-South Insurance Company, to help him exonerate Lusk. The former enemies, convinced that Pierce was killed for possession of the most unusual coin they've ever seen, swing into action. As in their debut (No Bottom, 1994), they make an appealingly offbeat detective team: Williamson, finding that Crawford's beaten Lusk in jail, beats Crawford in front of his astonished deputies; Baldridge gets liquored up and denounces a suspect at gunpoint in church; and Tyner interrogates another suspect by taking him to bed before shipping him in a steamer trunk back to the Paragon. Though there's never much doubt about who really killed Cassie Pierce, Williamson, Baldridge, and Tyner have a high old time bringing the culprits to book in this lively Reconstruction tale.