Lt. Frank Hastings, of San Francisco's Homicide Department, has a serial killer on his hands when it slowly emerges that four efficiently dispatched victims were all members of the posh Rabelais Club, as well as participants in a regular, weekly poker game there. Both the club's manager and its presiding officer, however, are eager to keep the club out of the papers, and, applying pressure to Hastings' superiors, they've warned him off. Unintimidated, Hastings and co-commander Friedman persist in investigating, eventually discovering a distant scandal--the death of a hooker at a club retreat weekend--along with cheating episodes at the gaming table, which resulted in a waiter's dismissal. Backed up by unit newcomer Janet Collier, Hastings unknowingly walks into the killer's lair; his lucky escape from death at the madman's hands will leave him so emotionally fragile that he turns for comfort to the idolizing Collier--with every indication that there are complications ahead for his relationship with his longtime love Ann. Solid, steady detective work from old pro Wilcox (17 Hastings titles to date), this time displaying a casual cynicism toward the mores of the power elite and a deepening vulnerability in Hastings's character.