On the same day her cat Ira gets run over for the second time (don’t ask), L.A. sportswriter-turned-shamus Zen Moses catches two cases that could change her life. One job is routine, if big-money: finding the estranged father of TV talk-show host Latisha Maxwell, last seen heading toward the border in a cloud of dust and booze. But the other strikes close to Zen’s heart: figuring out who shot her cousin Daniel and left his corpse in the beer freezer of her favorite bar. Danny’s death is a double shock, since before seeing him chilling out, Zen had thought he died a dozen years ago, part of a mass suicide of Guru Tama Tai’s followers out in High Cliffs Ranch. Now that she’s being followed by a mobbed-up Mercedes, Zen realizes Danny was up to his neck in dirty secrets and dirty money—unless the heavies tailing Zen (who’s tough like a man, but made like a woman) are more interested in old Harry Winchester, Latisha’s father, as Zen has to consider when she finds one of them on the scene of Harry’s murder. The bustling plot has more surprises in store, but you’d never know it from watching Zen, who struts her way through every conversation tossing off wisecracks with all the sublime self-absorption of a Kinky Friedman understudy. The result is a bumpy debut whose attitudinizing heroine is constantly bucking the promise of a soul-searching mystery that just makes her reach for her Walther a little faster.