When obsession threatens to consume a man, death can be a relief. Or it can be the beginning of an even more disturbing journey. In At Sea, Toby Olson once again explores a darker side of love and relationship, this time through the difficulties of characters in a Cape Cod town, where lifestyles mix, and sexual jealousy provokes deadly passions. The result is a complex mystery involving family secrets, brutal assault and death. It is Peter Blue, an undercover narcotics agent in Provincetown, who finds himself at sea. Troubled in his marriage to Sara, drawn to the rape victim, Beth Charters, Peter is torn in his affections. When he takes part in a drug bust that results in the death of a local fisherman, Peter's motives become suspect. When many in the town turn against him, he is put on temporary suspension. Peter leaves Provincetown for safe haven, but when he returns he finds that everything he'd counted on has come apart. A brutal murder raises more questions, creates more doubts. Peter is rescued from a drunken binge by Charlie Glen, the piano player at a local bar; together they set out to unravel the mystery that has developed, one which goes well beyond the recent murder. Their investigations lead them into the past, the underlife of the town's gay bars, out into the dunes of the National Seashore, even to the sea itself. In the end it is as much their own lives that are understood as those of the criminals they've pursued. As in all of Olson's fiction, including the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning Seaview and his most recent Dorit in Lesbos, At Sea explores issues of memory, coercion and sexual ambivalence. But here setting too becomes character, the delicate structures of Provincetown's culture and the natural world that surrounds it serving as a backdrop for the fragile and complex emotions of Peter Blue and those whose lives he touches. At Sea is at once mystery and psychological novel, yet written with the same stylistic elegance, the same care for detail that has become Olson's hallmark. At Sea takes its place with Toby Olson's five previous novels, a body of work that is unique in contemporary American fiction.