Kate Clark Flora’s willingness to break rules many crime writers follow makes her latest book a difficult one to put down. In the first four pages of “Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice,” for instance, the author identifies the probable killer. The revelation takes nothing from this true story of a psychopathic killer stalking police as they scramble for evidence to put him behind bars.

The book is set in Miramichi, New Brunswick, a usually peaceful place known for superb salmon fishing in the Miramichi River that runs through it. The early chapters center around a missing person report.

David Tanasichuk, known to police as an on-and-off drug dealer who also breaks firearm and hunting regulations, reports late in January that it has been two weeks since he heard from his wife, Maria. They had some marital problems, he tells police, and Maria took a bus to Saint John for a few days of respite.

Although David is less than trustworthy, police are initially sympathetic because of a recent tragedy in the Tanasichuk family. Maria’s son from a former relationship died a few days before turning 18, following a fight at a high school graduation party.

But police turn suspicious when David gives conflicting dates about Maria’s departure and claims to know nothing about where she’s staying in Saint John. Neighbors of the Tanasichuks, all fond of Maria, tell police they’re worried about her and personally fearful of David.

A search warrant for the Tanasichuks’ apartment ratchets up concern. Maria’s purse and boots are in the apartment – items she would have taken if she’d gone to Saint John. And receipts are found that show David has pawned Maria’s jewelry.

Threatened now, David makes midnight phone calls to off-duty police asleep in their homes. He knows where their wives work and where their kids go to school.

He was, Flora writes, “a seasoned hunter. A gun nut. Deft with a bow and arrow. And he was nocturnal – as comfortable moving through the night as any sly and dangerous predator.”

David, who’s in his mid-30s, has likely killed before. He has three small black dots tattooed beneath one eye, each dot an underworld symbol for a murder committed. Miramichi police find a professor at the University of New Brunswick to translate two foreign language words tattooed on Tanasichuk’s throat. They turn out to be Russian and Ukrainian for “death dealer.”

Canadian police, suspecting that Maria is buried beneath deep snow, turn to the Maine Warden Service, where Lt. Pat Dorian coordinates search and rescue and works with cadaver dog handlers.

Other search teams are closer to Miramichi. But Dorian’s ability to find missing persons, living and dead, is near legendary.

“When she went missing the ground was frozen solid as the Rock of Gibraltar … so we knew more than likely that she had to be on top of the ground,” Dorian says.

Snow cover masks all scent, and the search is halted until spring thaw, when Dorian and his crew of two- and four-legged experts join Miramichi police. This is a truly fascinating segment of “Death Dealer.” Readers learn, for instance, that training a cadaver dog is far more difficult than training a canine to find a living person.

The reason: Dogs are attached to people and are repelled by the scent of death. Training has to overcome their hesitance.

Kate Clark Flora has published 14 books, some as Kate Clark, and a few under a pseudonym. She grew up in Union, Maine.

Following law school in Boston, she served as an assistant attorney general in Maine. She left law to write. “Death Dealer” may be among her finest works yet.

Lloyd Ferriss is a writer and photographer who lives in Richmond.