Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes' cases usually concern the bad boys of rural Blacklin County, or the slightly wacky citizens who are causing trouble that tends to be funny rather than criminal. But although at first the dead man floating in the old swimming pool at the edge of town seems to have been an accident victim — a staggering drunk tumbling into the water — Rhodes and his small but colorful staff soon uncover murder. It's the second strange death in two weeks (the other was that of John West, killed when he blew up carrying a gasoline can across a field). But where was the Cherokee wagon John was carrying the gas to? And why is his widow so jaunty? West was a solid citizen; Pep Yeldell, the swimming pool decedent, was a man with many enemies. In his quiet way, Rhodes goes about looking for a connection and a killer — a quest that takes Rhodes, no athlete now in spite of his wife's efforts to keep him on a diet of little meat and lots of greens, up a tree and puts him at the mercy of a vicious killer.