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: It must be something in the air. First, reclusive circuit judge Just Watson -- who is now, by attrition, Gideon Lowry's closest living relative -- announces that he's retiring from the bench and getting married. Then Casey, Gideon's sometime lover, calls from Miami with the news that she's engaged. Gideon isn't drowning his sorrows in rum these days, but a true Conch needs something more than hibiscus and humidity to take the edge off. A date arranged through the island's discreet escort service doesn't disappoint. Katy Morgan is lovely: a fragile reminder of Gideon's long-lost youth. The next morning, Katy appears at Gideon's Duval Street home to engage his services -- as a private eye. She confesses she has something that doesn't really belong to her: a jewel-encrusted gold chalice from one of the old Spanish ships now being salvaged off the coast. Frightened yet defiant, she's wary of divulging more. A day later Katy's dead, sprawled on the linoleum floor of her shabby trailer, the open oven spewing gas. The chalice is nowhere to be found. When Gideon last saw her alive, in the club where his piano soothes weary hearts with Gershwin and Porter, she'd been arguing with a man Gideon didn't recognize. Now that man -- Joe Delgado, a deputy to treasure salvor Brendan Scott -- is sitting white-knuckled in Gideon's wicker chair, anxious to hire him to clear up the mystery of Katy's death, and to find the missing chalice. Gideon's investigation leads from Scott's wealthy local investors to the judge, embarrassed by an indiscreet long-ago affair, to cop Webb Conners, a buddy from Gideon's drinking days who's recently added sex to his list of addictions. Suspicion even lights on the judge's fiancee, a socially ambitious woman whose first husband had ties to the salvage business and died broke. But the truth of Katy's death lies deeper than greed, and the stench of it will take more than a stiff sea breeze to blow away.