A scare-provoking first novel that owes much of its effectiveness to its slow pacing and island insularity. To rethink his career and romance doldrums, Paul Whitman accepts a job from a man so secretive that he won't even confide his first name. When Paul arrives on Mr. Murdock's remote Puget Sound island, the locals refer to Paul as ``the second piano man,'' but no one can tell him precisely what happened to his predecessor, who had also been hired to restore Murdock's instrumentsall of which, mysteriously, are missing their piano strings. Soon the ferry goes in dry dock, his home is set afire, and Paul is ambushed on the cliff. But why? Does the corpse moldering beneath the floorboards have anything to do with the murder of a drifter, a local, and the church organist? And where has Murdock's son, Jason, disappeared to? Many ominous moonlit nights later, Paul finally comes face to face with a wily killer determined to hide a 20-year old crime.... Soft-spoken creepiness throughout, and one of the season's better mystery/horror taleswith believably eccentric characters and nasty surprises.