Houston insurance-fraud investigator Cole January rolls out of bed one morning and steps on the dead body of a comely young woman new to his acquaintance. Looks like trouble for Cole, especially when his old buddy Sgt. Roy Fraizer is knocking at his door within minutes and IDs the corpse as Molly Jones-Heitkamp, daughter of well-connected contractor Jack Heitkamp, who really isn't going to like this. But it's no big deal, at least not for the real Molly, who's still alive and kicking. In fact, she wants to hire Cole to find out who tried to kill her by planting a bomb in her car. Her own top candidates: a hatchet woman for the incumbent mayor, whom Molly's boyfriend is trying to unseat despite her own father's close ties to the current mayor; the wrestler she dumped for her present beau; and the shaky lead actor at the All Citizens' Theater. Cole's job is to find out who the dead woman is, why she was carefully placed next to his bed, why she looked so much like Molly, who's trying to kill Molly, and why they're so bad at it. (Even the car bomb was a dud: no explosives, no detonator. Go figure.) After a promising opening, first-novelist Bradley settles down to a retro canter through familiar climes before finally rewarding her hero's limited detective skills by delivering him to the love of a good woman.
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