Hoag finishes her crossover from sexy soft-cover romance to psychosexual thriller with this tale of tough Cajun loners looking for love in unlikely places. Heroine Annie Broussard is a deputy with the sheriff's office in Partout Parish in southern Louisiana. An orphan who's working hard to make detective, she's also devoted to getting rid of the sexual predators who victimize women. But just as her career seems to be looking up, Annie breaks an unwritten police law: She arrests a fellow officer, Nick Fourcade, when she finds him beating up a murder suspect. Annie should have let Fourcade kill him, say both her colleagues and the bayou parish citizens. After all, the suspect, Marcus Renard, had supposedly stalked Pam Bichon, a single mother. He'd driven stakes through her hands, raped her, killed her, eviscerated her, then left her wearing only a feathered Mardi Gras mask in a deserted cottage on Pony Bayou. Why not kill him? Switching his obsession from Pam to Annie, he maintains that he's innocent and begs Annie to help him. Working with Fourcade, who's suspended but still obsessed with the case, she seeks evidence to put the troubled Marcus legally behind bars. Meanwhile, someone's raping Louisiana women, and Marcus is too injured to be the perp. Is it Annie's lazy, mean-spirited colleague Stokes? Or Pam's husband, involved with a New Orleans racketeer from Fourcade's past? As Mardi Gras approaches, Annie, a cute kid who does 50 chin-ups a day and has an addiction to candy bars, wrestles with Fourcade's dangerous sexuality--fortunately a losing battle--and with the evil presence of deranged male predators that haunts so many recent suspense novels. Hoag (Guilty as Sin, 1996, etc.) is always a good gritty read, but this time a lack of sustained emotional tension makes the novel a long ride on soft tires.