Ex-Boston cop Hugh Quint, now a private eye, in a disappointing second outing (The Maple Sugar Murders)--one that takes him to the rural New England mountain town of Longfield, home of old friend Miles Cooper, a loony inventor in constant need of development money. Miles lives with his strong-willed mother Sarah and adopted sister Amy, who's half Abenaki Indian. Amy is missing, probably deep in the mountain forest with Indian activist Eric Cornplanter, and Hugh promises Sarah that he'll try to find her. Soon after Hugh's arrival, however, Sarah's lawyer Bryan Sheehan is murdered, her will the only thing stolen from his office. Hugh figures that there must be a connection to the one valuable object she possesses--an antique highboy won by her late husband from neighbor Toop Tucker in a poker game. Meanwhile, Toop's taciturn son Calvin helps Hugh in his search for Amy; a second murder victim surfaces; and Hugh becomes aware that someone is stalking him--and the highboy--resulting in a meant-to-be-exciting car chase plus another, on foot, up a mountainside that ends with yet another killing. A trap set by Hugh and Sarah finally nets the killer, but it's too late for this disjointed, undermotivated story. Charmless characters endlessly bickering in redneck dialogue don't help; neither does the padding of Indian lore. Perhaps Hugh will recover his cool the third time around--here, sadly, it's nowhere in evidence.