When a serial killer shows up on Longboat Key, Florida after a twelve year absence, Matt Royal is stymied. The first woman killed on Longboat Key has ties to a secretive government agency for which Matt's best friend Jock Algren works. Was this a coincidence or was she a targeted kill? Matt's friend, Longboat Key detective Jennifer Diane (J.D.) Duncan investigates the murders but also seems to be a target of the killer. Why? And where has the killer been for the past twelve years? And why has he come to Longboat Key when his earlier kills were all in Miami? The mystery deepens when Guatemalan gang-bangers try to kill Matt and J.D. and suspicions grow that Mexican drug cartels are somehow involved. The director of Jock's agency orders him to do whatever is necessary to find the killer because of the death of the woman with connections to the agency. Will Jock simply take out the murderer or allow J.D. and the law to arrest, try and convict the bad guys? Matt's life is further complicated by J.D.'s growing dissatisfaction with island living and her thoughts of returning to Miami.
Griffin's seventh Matt Royal mystery (after 2011's Collateral Damage) offers a good mix of action and investigation. The retired Florida attorney's love interest, J.D. Duncan, the sole police officer on Longboat Key, seeks him out after a corpse that surfaces near the island reawakens painful memories. Twelve years earlier, when Duncan served in Miami, she was unsuccessful in the hunt for a serial killer who struck three times. The murderer's victims were all middle-aged women or older, and each was bound to a tree and shot in the back of the head. The killer was dubbed the whale tail for his habit of pinning a silver whale tail earring through the left ear lobe of the dead women. That the latest victim was similarly marked raises the question of whether a copycat or the original is responsible. The plot is nicely complex, even if the characters could use more depth.