In the little kingdom of Montandino, California, Chief of Police Diego (Digger) Martinez is the Eagle, and Dr. Harold Baranoff is the king. Brought in to revitalize the Graysmith Lab, Hal Baranoff has moved into primate experimentation with a single-mindedness that’s attracted the well-publicized opposition of animal-rights activist Carla Strombaugh and the terrorists calling themselves the Mercy Bandits. He’s also replaced the cancer-stricken head janitor with a Latino who’ll work for minimum wage, dismissed a graduate student who was getting too friendly with another student Hal was sleeping with, revived an old quarrel with his twin brother Vance—who’s still in love with Hal’s wife Susie—and alienated his own twin children, Rachel and Reuben, who are willing to break into his lab to free a pair of squirrel monkeys. So it’s not so surprising that he’d be found dead one Easter, soon after receiving an anonymous threat: “QUIT MONKS OR DIE!” What’s surprising is the way he’s found: huddled in the bottom of a pit used to test the chemical reactions of macaque monkeys to despair. Pulitzer poet Kumin (Women, Animals, and Vegetables: Essays and Stories, 1994, etc.) uses a clipped, nervously understated style that cuts back and forth between Digger’s investigation and events leading up to Hal’s death to create a viselike pressure on his final hours, showing how they took shape from the actions of every human primate he’d used. Kumin’s stylish riddles come packaged with just enough clues to deepen their mystery till the quiet fadeout.