Beneath the Depths is Bruce Coffin’s sequel to Among the Shadows, his debut featuring Portland detective John Byron, and it’s a solid sophmore offering.

Juggling his sobriety along with his romance with Detective Diane Joyner that must be kept hidden, Byron doesn’t hide his feelings when a lawyer he dislikes is found dead by a lobsterman in a stretch called Floater Alley. A possible suicide or accidental drowning is ruled out once a slug is removed from the victim’s head.

Paul Ramsey’s recent loss of a huge case is one point that interests Bryon, but there soon seem to be no shortage of suspects in the growing list of people who would want the obnoxious lawyer dead. This is a man whose vanity plate reads: I WIN.

There are past clients, a drug connections, mistresses and a grieving widow, and that’s just the start. Complicating their investigation is a reporter who seems to have inside information on the case. And it doesn’t help when Diane is offered a position that might solve their problem with keeping their relationshop under the table but keeps the offer to herself.

With the Portland PD having its own issues, Byron is often caught between a rock and a hard place, which intensifies when the Chief makes it clear that Ramsey’s law office makes huge donations to his pet projects.

Coffin draws on his own experience and knowledge as a former homicide detective to make this a solid police procedural. The Portland setting is well drawn and provides a strong backdrop to the action. This is a great read with a tight plot and believeable characters.

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