Reverting to his mystery-as-an-afterthought bent, Constantine follows last year's compelling Joey's Case with a murder case that intrudes on a death in the family of Rocksburg Sheriff Mario Balzic--a case that mostly takes a back seat to the Balzic family grief. When a porn shop opens on the outskirts of town, nobody except a sham minister seems particularly upset; then a young, gay man is found diced up in the woods just beyond the dirty bookstore. Meanwhile, Balzic's mother is hospitalized with a stroke; his wife Ruth barely leaves the woman's bedside; one of his daughters wants to know his views on an afterlife; and Mario can barely function through his pain. Interspersed between corridor waits to waylay doctors, marital confrontations in the kitchen, visits to the funeral parlor and pouring down the private stock at Muscotti's, Balsic finds a murder witness--an abused wile who is afraid for her son and afraid of her husband; the woman won't talk; she's savagely attacked; and a confession and arrest follow. Nobody is more fine-tuned to working, class nuance than Constantine, and few writers are as consummate a stylist. But this amounts to nothing more than a superb series of vignettes.