From old-hand Carlson (Bad Blood, 1991, etc.), a new heroine to root for, Martine ``Marty'' Hopkins--a 29-year-old southern Indiana deputy sheriff who's not at all happy to be shunted off two Klan killings (a black school custodian, and a white Jewish musician married to a black woman) to deal with brain-tumor-addled Judge Denton's hallucination that someone is out to kill him. Also on the Judge's lips: the fate of Phyllis, his 12-year-old daughter, who disappeared ten years ago. When hints from a university professor lead to the discovery of Phyllis's body in barely accessible limestone caves, and a Klan calling card is found with her body, Marty finds herself working both cases. To the chagrin of Sheriff Wes Cochran, the FBI is called in--and another Klan marker turns up at the home of Alma Willison, who's disappeared. The sheriff is hospitalized with heart trouble; the FBI is bamboozled by the locals; the Judge dies; and Marty again reconnoiters the caves--and (very gently) confronts an avenging murderer. Sharply drawn characters, from the rich folk to the good ol' boys to Marty's daughter Chrissie, and strong plotting make for fine reading--and a welcome first in a series.