Investigating a suspicious oil spill by his seacoast home, Lewis Cole stumbles upon the corpse of a murder victim and teams up with mob rep Felix Tinios in order to uncover the truth, a search that brings him up against the local underworld.
Sitting on the deck of his New Hampshire beach house with a couple of Molsons, retired agency man and occasional journalist Lewis Cole is bemoaning the recently oil-soaked coastline when he sees a corpse drift in. Lewis, who is recovering from an operation to remove a benign but puzzling tumor, a result of his participation in a Department of Defense experiment in Nevada (recounted in Dead Sand), is trying to trace the ownership of the tanker that spilled the oil. He also agrees to help a lesbian cop pal who has a new guy on the force interested in her and to advise, for a fee, his neighbor Felix, a onetime criminal who knows the whereabouts of three famous purloined paintings. Teasing us with Cole's agency history and the incident that ended his employment, DuBois spins a convoluted narrative that embraces the theft of the paintings from an art gallery, the financial woes of the gallery owner and a security guard, the amorous cop, the owner of the leaky ship and the floater. Successfully untangling this surfeit of plot lines, DuBois paints a vivid picture of Cole's life in controlled, seductive prose.