Wyoming painter Ray Tantro was a has-been at 30, but now, ten years later, he's getting ready for a comeback with a show Eden Chaffee's mounted at the Timberwolf Arts gallery. The comeback, however--already muted by the amateurish new canvases Ray's completed--takes a shocking turn when Timberwolf Arts burns to the ground with Ray and all those paintings inside. Eden is inconsolable, but her friend and neighbor Alix Thorssen, whom she's moved in with, realizes that Ray's going to have his comeback after all: The man in the ashes, loaded with alcohol and barbiturates, wasn't him. Instead, Ray's been bailing his dog out of the humane shelter and making discreet phone calls to the local press. But before Alix, facing her own problems with her sometime boyfriend Carl Mendez and her partner and former lover Paolo Segundo, can set up her own meeting with Ray, he's dead again, this time for keeps. Who killed him, and was it the same person both times? The answer depends on an unusually complex art swindle that will leave you gasping with admiration for the killer's imagination and industry. McClendon (The Bluejay Shaman, 1994) knits detective work together with domestic betrayals in a satisfyingly intricate tangle.