Boston's menschy private eye John Cuddy (Blunt Darts, etc.) is hired by edgy young reporter Jane Rust to investigate the death of drifter Charlie Coyne in the seedy coastal town of Nasharbor, where Jane works on the Beacon. Charlie was her secret source for an exposâ€š on kiddy porn and had fingered Mark Schoenstein as a local cop on the take. Police captain Neil Hagan, a buddy of Schonstein's retired, disabled ex-cop father, dismissed Coyne's death as a routine mugging. Cuddy has doubts, but it's when Jane dies, an apparent suicide, that he settles into Nasharbor's one acceptable motel and starts probing. There's little help from Jane's co-workers--alcoholic Malcolm Peete and secretive, oddly affluent Liz Bendall. But Cuddy tentatively explores Coyne's world of strip bars and porno-movie/theaters headed by ailing Bunny Gotbaum and loyal sidekick Ducky Teevens; he also talks to police captain Hagan and to his Portuguese rival for chief, Hoguerira; to ambitious housing-developer Richie Dykestra and his front man, Bruce Fletch, who was Jane's boyfriend until she met Coyne. A murderous personal attack; the death of yet another drifter; and a casual remark at Jane's funeral help Cuddy to uncover a Byzantine plot with tangled roots in the not-too-distant past. Richly textured, complex but lucid, with a vivid rogues' gallery of mostly foul-mouthed characters and a believable, tender-touch sleuth: Healy's best in a series that steadily improves.