When the man who’s interrupting the Thursday night poker game in the apartment over Ralph Shedden’s coin shop is wearing a ski mask and toting a shotgun, it’s easy to see that he doesn’t just want to get dealt in for a few hands. But Ralph’s assistant, part-time shamus Al Sears, knows more about the guy, even before he helps Thursday night regular (and former Memphis police chief) Harlan Roberts kill him. He’s convinced that John Shelton (“The Shell”), the contract killer now cooling in the morgue, was out to kill him. Which of the disgruntled clients Sears couldn’t help in his pre-alcoholic former life as a defense attorney wants him put on the spot? And how is The Shell tied in to Benny Wilson, a small-town thief who just happens to have been murdered the same night? In their first collaboration, Hensley (Robak’s Witch, 1997, etc.) and Townsend provide a nonstop parade of entertaining lowlifes. But since most of the cast members pass by only once or twice, it’s hard to get caught up in the question of which of them is after a fortune in collectible coins—or to feel slighted when the authors pluck a culprit from the ranks who could just as well have been anybody else. Now that Sears has set up shop, let’s see if he can catch a case with a little more meat on its bones.