In previous accounts, Charles Knief's hero, John Caine, seemed indestructible. But in this fourth adventure of the man whom the Boston Globe described as the heir apparent to Travis McGee, we find that even he can't take a gunshot in the back and escape with a few bruises. We meet him far from his beloved Hawaii protecting his friend Chawlie, the Honolulu gangster, at the funeral of a rival Triad leader in San Francisco. Just as the coffin is placed in the hearse, a not totally unexpected shooting breaks out.
Caine succeeds in keeping Chawlie intact and saving the life of Chawlie's number one son, and his reward is a long stay in a San Francisco hospital and the enmity of a female police detective with her own agenda. It isn't long before Caine learns that he is her prime suspect in a murder case.
Back home, convalescing in Waikiki, Caine finds that there are better ways to pass the time than watching daytime TV when his old friend Hawaiian Police chief Kimo presents him with a new case. Donna Wong, a young scientist, has made an important discovery under the waters of the Pacific--one that could turn the history of Hawaii upside down--but her faculty advisor is planning to steal it from her. Can Caine look into the man's background to find out if he's ever done this before?
"Of course," says Caine. "It's easy."
But nothing is easy for John Caine. The California detective arrives in Hawaii to take him back to the mainland for trial. Dodging her, he learns that his friend is threatened with charges of extortion, kidnapping, and murder. And the imminent eruption of a new volcano threatens the site of Ms. Wong's discovery. Despite his still weakened condition, Caine must run to the rescue, battered but still dangerous. And another bunch of bad guys learn an important lesson: Never count John Caine out.