In the third book in this star-reviewed Portland, Maine-based police procedural series, Det. Joe Burgess's hopes for a more normal life slam up against the ugly reality of his job. On his way to a Columbus Day picnic with the foster children his girlfriend, Chris, hopes to adopt, Burgess is flagged down by two boys fishing off a pier who think they've spotted a body in the water.
Picnic canceled, Burgess spends a gorgeous fall day surprising the retrieval of the body, only to find, during the ME's preliminary exam, that he is looking at someone he knows--a damaged alcoholic Vietnam vet known, from his habit of collecting cans and bottles he redeems for spending money, as Reggie the Can Man. But Burgess and Reggie have a long history, going back to high school football and a year in Vietnam. Reggie has had decades of ups and downs. Burgess and Reggie's brother, Clay, have done a lot of patching him together, but as long as there have been ups, he's represented the possibility of hope and redemption.
When, at autopsy, the astute ME questions whether the death is truly the accidental drowning it appears, Burgess finds he must do one last thing for Reggie--find out the how, and why, of his lost friend's death, an investigation that will involve Reggie's cold ex-wife and shiftless, scofflaw son, industrial toxins, corrupt businessmen, real estate developers, and a mysterious woman who claims to be a witch.