Boston's p.i. John Cuddy has had some tough cases (Shallow Graves, etc.), but none as seemingly hopeless as the task of saving Steve Shea from a murder conviction. Shea, a super salesman at DRM, Defense Contractors in Boston, built a posh summer home on Marseilles Pond in the Maine woods. He and wife Sandra--with inseparable friends Dr. Hale Vandemeer and wife Vivian--spent summer weekends there, with loud music and an assortment of high- tech water toys, not endearing them to their few neighbors--like fedora-wearing, shotgun-toting Ma Judson or one-armed, one-legged environmentalist loner Dag Gates. One evening Shea, as was his habit, went to pick up wine and groceries--a 20-minute drive--and returned to find his wife and the Vandemeers dead--each shot with a crossbow. Protesting innocence, Shea is arrested and jailed. His lawyer hires Cuddy to explore any avenue that could provide even reasonable doubt of his guilt. Cuddy probes for means and motives- -the Vandemeers' no-good son Nicky and his drug-pushing, gang member pals; Hale's brother Hub, a car dealer in financial straights; Shea's hard-driving competitors at DRM. In the end, an overhyped secret and a casual remark put Cuddy on the right track- -with his life on the line and rescue from an unexpected source. Boston's mean streets and Maine's peaceful waters provide the richly contrasting background for a sometimes chilling, always compelling story: Healy's best to date.