From the book jacket:
Winter is on the wane in northwestern
Vermont. The moon hangs bright and cold in
the silvery night sky over hundreds of
square miles of a peaceful, dormant
landscape of dairy farms. Young Bobby Cutts
enters the family barn to tend to the beasts
and encounters a nightmare. Suddenly
surrounded by bolts of fire, Bobby and the
entire herd perish in a stampeding, hellish
circle of flames.
Called to the scene to investigate, Joe Gunther instantly recognizes arson. But by whom? And for what possible reason? There is little insurance, the family is loving and tightly knit, and there are few neighborhood animosities.
Yet murder this is, and Gunther quickly discovers that someone is wreaking havoc across the bucolic farmlands surrounding the town of St. Albans. Somewhere in the dense social fabric of the community, in the hearts and souls of Bobby's family, and in the cutthroat farming business underneath the region's placid exterior are the truths Joe Gunther and his team must ferret out. But what looked like a local case is about to take them from the barns of Vermont to the gritty streets of Newark, New Jersey.
Comment: Joe Gunther made his first appearance in Open Season (1988) as a police lieutenant in Vermont. 16 books later he's still in Vermont (but now second in command) and still solving crimes by "quietly, relentlessly stripping away the veneer to reveal motives like envy and rancor, disappointment and bitterness." Unfortunately he's pretty dense when it comes to figuring out his own relationships, and his long-time relationship with State Senator Gail Zigman is on the rocks, so the question is not so much whether Joe will catch the killer, but whether he will lose a lover......
As Kirkus Reviews so aptly puts it, "the most understated cop in crime fiction racks up a satisfying 16th in a series that marches confidently to its own unhurried beat." - Kirkus Reviews.
This review was originally published in November 2005, and has been updated for the October 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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