When Fred Pugsley receives a dead rattlesnake in the mail, ex-Seattle cop Thomas Black and his friend, lawyer Kathy Birchfield, are called in to investigate. But when they get there, Fred is dead, and his stunned wife sits huddled in the kitchen, clutching a tool used on racing bicycles -- the murder weapon. But the wife says she's innocent, and suddenly there are plenty of other suspects. Just as Seattle stages its own Mardi Gras, Black is getting ready for a wild blow-out of his own . . .