Strike three for Chicago pitcher Scott Carpenter: First, he's pressed to come completely out of the closet; then a pulled groin muscle takes him off the mound; finally, his father's heart attack recalls him to Brinard, Georgia, where men are men and Scott's lover, high-school teacher Tom Mason, is about as welcome as the return of General Sherman. If even Scott's brothers, big Hiram and little Nathan, resent Scott's success and hate the man they think turned him away from the straight and narrow, imagine what the locals think when redneck Sheriff Pete Woodall gets his throat slit the night after Tom publicly stands up to his harassment. Taken into custody but released, Tom figures he'd better solve the murder himself if he wants it solved right, and he joins forces with Scott's high-school girlfriend Violet Burnside, a former cheerleader with a steely spine, and reporter Dennis Hale, who's going to be very sorry he ever signed on. Together they find out that the sheriff was blackmailing half the town for the usual sexual irregularities (homosexuality, miscegenation, pederasty). But there'll be more trouble for Tom and his friends even before a climactic flood washes away Brinard's hypocrisy, along with a good deal of the town's real estate. Zubro presents his antigay intrigue with a vividness and a sober concentration that make you wonder why he ever wasted his time on the silly antics of Tom and Scott's last outing (An Echo of Death, 1994).