Feeling guilty about turning down his gambler brother Nick's last request for money, Bernie D'Angelo asks his best friend, ex- Philly cop Frank Sweeney, to get hold of Nick in Atlantic City. But even though Frank has a hot tip from Cappy, a homeless guy who says he told Nick something he shouldn't have, it's too late for Nick, who's been decoyed into an abandoned lighthouse and set ablaze. And it isn't long before a second fire is lit under Cappy himself. The man Nick was leaning on (and vice-versa) was obviously Tony Dante, president of the Poseidon Club. But unraveling the complicated scam that links Nick to Dante will take Frank on a winding tour of Atlantic City that goes from a gaggle of former carny headliners like Tommy the Toe and Lady RenÇ to a crooked judge, a millionaire incognito, an underaged gambler, a pyromaniac henchman, a slippery female reporter, a gifted deaf painter as primitive as her canvases, and some Pine Barrens natives who know more than they realize about a 20-year- old fire that destroyed more than trees. Frank, talking his way through his first case, already has the clipped, sensitive routine down cold--he can shift from Goethe to Yogi Berra without missing a beat--and even readers who think the last secret is one too many will find this solid, rewarding work. Slow and absorbing as a brushfire, with a memorable group portrait of the Pineys and their bleak, oddly beautiful world.