Gavin Cutter, an artist living in an isolated village on the
New England coast, witnesses the crash of a sailing ship onto a reef. The first aboard the wreck, he rescues a dog—the only living creature on the vessel. Ron Myers, wealthy owner of a growing computer firm, and the crew of his ship have disappeared without a trace.
TJ Flood, an insurance investigator, questions Cutter and other witnesses about that day and discovers a sheriff’s deputy denies knowledge of a woman the witnesses say was present when the mishap occurred. Flood, a former policeman with a hidden past, also learns Myers is alleged to have developed a radical and valuable new microprocessor system. Some assert the system was lost with its creator. Others believe it exists and have devious plans to profit from the invention.
Flood is attracted to Dee, Cutter’s daughter, a newspaper reporter. They join forces in investigating the ship incident and strange coincidences surrounding it, including a break-in at Cutter’s house and mysterious concerns about the dog. The result is threats, danger and, ultimately, several murders before the case is resolved.
“I don’t like unsolved cases,” Gleason said, “but it looks like this is going to be one of them.”
The sheriff was a big, burly man in his mid-forties. His salt and pepper hair was cut short in a burr and he regarded Flood with intelligent brown eyes that did not waver. He had the look of an athlete gone slightly to seed with time. He rocked back and forth in a swivel chair pulled up to a desk piled high with papers and manila folders. Gleason puffed mechanically at a cigarette despite the no smoking sign prominently posted on the wall by the door behind Flood.
“Fortunately, it’s not really my case,” Gleason continued, tapping ash from his cigarette into an open drawer at his side.
Flood had been prepared to dislike him. Instead, he found the man cordial and, seemingly, cooperative—which wasn’t always the case between small town police and insurance investigators. If Gleason was efficient, as Cutter contended, that remained to be seen.
The office had been busier than Flood anticipated. He’d been forced to wait on a hard bench before Gleason would see him. A throng of people had bustled in and out of the office in the courthouse basement while he waited, keeping the two deputies busy—constables picking up papers to serve, lawyers with writs, bondsmen, people with applications for various municipal licenses. He was edgy and suspicious by the time a secretary ushered him into Gleason’s office.
“It was in your jurisdiction,” Flood said.
“The ship running aground, yes. Whatever took place happened out to sea. Minor business for me. Rest of it is up to the Coast Guard and your company.”
“What do you think happened to them?”
Gleason rolled his eyes, took a final drag on the cigarette, snuffed it and slammed the drawer shut. “Who knows?” he said with a little smile.
“You think maybe aliens snatched them?”
The sheriff gave a hearty laugh, showing big brown teeth. “I wasn’t being evasive. You ever been out to sea in a storm like the one the night they disappeared?”
Flood shook his head.
“You don’t wanna be, either. It ain’t pleasant. They were probably all up on deck, got washed overboard.”
“No bodies were found.”
“Hell, that’s not surprising. Probably got swept out to sea. And there are sharks in these waters. Not the first time people have disappeared without a trace.”
“There should have been something. There were four people aboard.”
“There are chains of uninhabited little islands and miles of vacant beach south of that village. Even if body parts washed ashore, crabs and gulls would make short work of them if sand didn’t bury them first.”