Ex-judge, ex-criminal, ex--street-person Ellis Portal has left downtown Toronto for the lonely shelter of an unused government fish hatchery when his street friend Queenie Johnson catches up with him. Queenie's best friend Melia Campbell has died, and Queenie doesn't believe the official verdict that she froze to death outdoors as early as November. Ellis agrees to return to Toronto to investigate but gets delayed by a second call for help from his imperious old schoolmate, Supreme Court Justice John Stoughton-Melville, whose Alzheimer's stricken wife Harpur, once Ellis's hopeless love, has disappeared from her nursing home. By the time Ellis has seen Harpur rescued by handsome young Vincent Genovi, whom Harpur seems to confuse with Ellis, Melia's friend Pauline del Mario has died under similar circumstances--meaning that Sgt. Matt West is no more interested in her death than in Melia's. But Ellis, who's been getting vaguely threatening messages that hint at a probable fate the same as that of the victims, suspects that they're linked as habituâ€šs of the local courthouse, and goes undercover as a Court Services Officer in the courthouse where he'd once presided as a judge--and where his daughter Ellen now argues cases as a Crown prosecutor. It's his troubled relationship with Harpur, though, that will provide the key to the mystery. Not as original as Ellis's remarkable debut, Free Reign (1997), but still plotted with elegant simplicity, a rhythm all its own, and a knack for turning the simplest investigative procedures into dramatic challenges by depriving the hero of the majesty of the law.