Rachel Porter, intrepid U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent, is virtually single-handed in defeating smugglers breaching New Jersey port security.
Since transferring from Hawaii to the Garden State’s Port Elizabeth so she can work near her FBI lover Santou, stationed in New York, plucky Rachel Porter is appalled by her coworkers’ daily lack of gumption. When a wealthy socialite is murdered on her patch and Magda, the woman running the local luncheonette, suddenly sports a $20,000 shahtoosh shawl, Rachel begins to nose around. Then the luncheonette burns down with Magda inside, sending Rachel’s investigation into overdrive. She meets other socialites, from Tiffany, a former lap dancer, to Giancarlo, a gay designer who swathes himself and his clientele in contraband shawls and illegally imported ivory doodads. Santou, seasoned by his own anti-terrorist investigations, warns Rachel to be careful, but too late: She’s attacked by goons. Something more sinister than wildlife corruption is going down. A Chinese kingpin whose son Rachel killed a while back (Restless Waters, not reviewed) is trafficking in blood diamonds—gems used to fund guerilla operations in Africa. A bang-up finale in the port almost gets Rachel and a pal killed.
The best things here are the descriptions of New York neighborhoods, especially the Lower East Side. The worst are the many convenient coincidences and contrivances and pulp lingo.