Lyons has always had trouble matching his great dialogue and seedy scenery with good plots, but this time he seems downright desperate--as he gives L.A. shamus Jake Asch a mystery that turns into a cheap rornan-Ã -clef of the most specious sort. The beginning is fine: Jake is hired by a ""munchkin""-like heiress to check out her fiancÃ‰ Merle Hoffman, a landfill engineer who is quickly revealed to be a pederast (""chickenhawk""). But then it turns out that the munchkin-lady--soon hit-and-run murdered--was duping Jake: she really wanted to get some blackmail goods on Hoffman because he'd been asking embarrassing questions about government bribes behind some big real-estate landfill projects. So most of this slow-moving novel has Jake digging out evidence of corruption (he's framed for murder and nearly killed). . . before the real coverup is uncovered: the sexual habits of a governor who is blatantly modeled on a real one. Okay action and atmosphere--but fewer laughs than usual and that unpleasant cop-out ending make this the weakest Jake Asch outing yet.