Truman "Tru" Smith is a PI who'd rather be reading Faulkner or fishing on his beloved Galveston Island than solving mysteries, so when his friend Dino asks for help, Tru at first demurs. With some not-very-subtle arm twisting, Dino finally persuades Tru to investigate the disappearance of Old Harry, a homeless vagrant whom Dino and his family have "adopted." Tru makes some half-hearted efforts to find the old geezer--who Tru figures probably disappeared because he felt like it--but only succeeds in getting shot at, doused in the Gulf, and bopped on the head. Of course, these events not only make Tru cross, they also rouse his suspicions about why somebody is so determined to keep him from finding out the real reasons for Old Harry's disappearance. It's not long before Tru discovers that some very nasty business is going on--business that isn'tin the best interests of Tru's island.
When Truman Smith, Crider's Texas Gulf Coast semiretired PI, muses, ``feeling guilt is one of the things I do best,'' readers will not argue. Smith, who last felt inadequate in Gator Kill, can't find Outside Harry, well-known indigent of Galveston Island, whose missing status was first noticed by Smith's boyhood chum Dino. Dino, agoraphobic scion of the family of ``uncles'' that once ran the Island's now defunct gambling casino, hires his pal to find Harry. In the course of the search, which meanders around the Island and involves a couple of generations of colorful characters, the ex-bodyguard of one of the uncles is shot dead and another homeless man is killed. Smith, attacked a few times himself, uncovers and defeats a trio of murderers. The guilt-ridden Smith, who reads Look Homeward, Angel and listens to Elvis recordings, doesn't evoke much sympathy here, though he does solve some crimes and get Dino out of the house.