Windham College, a small liberal arts college in Hamilton, New Hampshire, has
just won it's basketball conference tournament with a desperate last-second
shot. Coach Phil McKenzie is taking his team to the big dance, the NCAA
Tournament. As the fans storm the court in jubilation, associate head coach
Ray Hopson sits slumped in his chair on the bench, dead. Poisoned, in fact.
John (Johnny) Stella, forensic psychologist, college professor and ex-cop, and
Frank Fiamella, chief of detectives in Hamilton and John's former colleague on the
Philadelphia police department, have to find out, among the chaos of the great
victory, how and who. The task is made harder when the medical examiner
determines that Ray was poisoned twice, once by slow-acting nicotine and once
by the quick-killing formalin. Are we dealing here with one murderer or two?
Complications abound as Frank's shaky marriage is threatened by his wife's
insistence that he re-investigate the murder and arson conviction of her brother.
And the local authorities are dead set against Frank's reopening the case. Both
these investigations play out against a media frenzy that engulfs Hamilton both
because of the murders and because the Windham's basketball team has been
ordained the Cinderella of the national tournament.