Alex McNight is hoisting a couple in his favorite local, the Glasgow Inn, when in waltzes Randy Wilkins to put a crimp into his not doing much. True, Alex, a sometime private eye, seldom does do much, though ladies in distress have on occasion (Winter of the Half Moon, 2000, etc.) got him to stir a stump. At any rate, Randy is an old friend who’s made his way to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula because he needs help. He’s looking for a lost love—well and truly lost, since Randy walked out on Maria Valeska 30 years ago and hasn’t set eyes on her since. Why ask Alex for help? Well, as youngsters they were teammates on a minor-league Toledo club—Randy a talented southpaw pitcher, Alex his “good field, no hit” catcher. And the thing about the pitcher-catcher relationship, he explains, is that it gives rise to a mystical, indefinable bond. For instance, Randy tells Alex, “I could never lie to you.” It soon develops, however, that he certainly can, and that for him lying is as natural as the “slinky,” the sucker curve that was once his money pitch. But Alex is nothing if not quixotic, and so off he goes on the Maria-quest, during which he gets warned off, beaten up, shot at, and generally mistreated and manhandled while tilting at windmills to mixed effect.
If the story line sounds weak and wandering, it is: a double disappointment after Alex’s two engaging forerunners.