Hard times for the Metro Toronto Police Force: Hamstrung by spiraling crime rates and salaries as frozen as the February weather, and threatened now with an 18% staffing cut, they’re under pressure to clear every case within 48 hours. But the death of Cheryl Latham, a campaign staffer for Tory service-slasher Tom Webb, doesn’t look like a two-day wonder. Why was her body moved from Cherry Beach to the Dominion Malting pier? Why was she shot in the chest after she’d frozen to death? Why had her parrot been killed back at her apartment? When Detectives Barry Gilbert and Joe Lombardo go after the car that made the tire prints at Dominion Malting, they find a dozen Crown Victorias, one of which tries to run Gilbert down. Meantime, they’ve also found links to the murder of Cheryl’s stepsister Donna Varley, shot two weeks earlier; to the crazy-quilt family (lots of suspects, still another Crown Vic) that Donna shared with Cheryl; and to a tidy case of fraud that’s left a quarter-million payoff waiting for somebody in a sunny Bahamas account. With their boss eager to pass along the heat he’s getting to make what looks like the obvious arrest, Gilbert and Lombardo decide to ignore the frame they sense they’re being offered and go it on their own, tracking down the perp and bringing him in without official support even though they’ve both been pulled from the case. Sounds like a busy weekend. Mackay (Outpost, 1998; A Friend in Barcelona, not reviewed) makes his cops’ first case as crisp and snappy as a Canadian winter—and a lot more light-footed. A debut to cheer.