Multiple murders rock peaceful Provincetown.
Sheriff Frank Coffin lands a sensitive missing person’s case when Melinda Merkin asks him to investigate the apparent disappearance of her husband, the Reverend Ron Merkin. A charismatic leader in the fight against gay rights, strapping Ron is a hardcore cross-dresser, a fact Melinda would like to keep under wraps. Before long, his body is found, clad in a floral muumuu and strangled by his raspberry-colored scarf. Facing Provincetown’s first murder in six years, Coffin questions his decision to relocate from the Baltimore Police Department to this gay mecca and tourist magnet. Much of this series kickoff is devoted to fleshing out Coffin’s supporting cast: longtime girlfriend Jamie, who issues a sudden ultimatum for a baby; reliable deputy Lola, a lovelorn lesbian who’s Coffin’s closest confidante; Coffin’s mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s in a nursing home; and a volatile old painter named Kotowski. Undercover efforts by Coffin’s deputies in drag yield humor but few leads. The identity of a second victim, a local high roller named Sonny Duarte up to his neck in shady deals, shifts suspicion away from the grieving widow but onto Kotowski, whose house has been seized by local developers. The death toll grows before Coffin deduces the identity of the ruthless killer.
Loomis (The Pleasure Principle, 2001, etc.) writes with warmth and wisdom, auguring well for further Coffin adventures.