Filling in for an ailing jurist on the North Carolina coast, Judge Deborah Knott (Southern Discomfort, 1993) is welcomed to Harkers Island by an unpleasant discovery: the body of neighboring Andy Bynum, founder of the Independent Fishers Alliance. Opposing at different times conservationists bent on protecting endangered species, visiting sport fishermen whose activity threatened their livelihood, and investors bent on developing Harkers Island, the IFA had made inoffensive Andy his share of enemies. But the real eye of the storm is grasping realtor Linville Pope -- who has her eye on IFA stalwart Barbara Jean Winberry's Neville Fishery and, evidently, every other property and eligible man that's not nailed down -- and it's no surprise when the next corpse turns out to be hers. Environmentalists, sportsmen, family fishermen, developers: Maron certainly doesn't duck the issues. What makes this novel special is her ability to bring this web of conflicts to subtle, vivid life while still leaving Deborah time for a good man and some great shellfish.