The debut outing for Virginia shamus Loren Swift (Foul Shot, 1984) was convoluted and derivative in plot, fairly engaging in personality. This follow-up has a more streamlined (if utterly predictable) story-line--but narrator Loren is less agreeable company here, laboring a bit too hard at humor, musing, and tough-guy sentiment. The case? Well, it starts when sheriff Ridley Campbell (an old pal) asks Swift to investigate Lester Beavans, the prime opposition in the upcoming election for sheriff. Who's putting up the big money to finance good-ol'-boy Lester's campaign? Is Lester behind the recent harassments (e.g., poisoned dogs) suffered by Ridley and his family? Those are the questions for sleuth Swift, who poses as a journalist to interview Lester, his comely campaign manager, his tart ex-wife (a standout vignette), and some of his supporters. But, despite some hints and threats, Swift hasn't learned much by novel's midpoint. Then, however, there's an abrupt shifting of narrative gears: computer-whiz Patrick, the wheelchair-bound brother of Swift's rather whiny girlfriend Patricia, suddenly disappears! So Swift drops everything to concentrate on the breathless search for Patrick--who had recently started work for a local import-export tycoon. And, to no reader's surprise, the Patrick-kidnap turns out to be linked to the shady politics. . .as Swift lurches into a clumsy denouement: a talky showdown with the cartoonish criminal mastermind behind all the mayhem (""You really are evil,"" Swift declares); and a cheap, soupy cliffhanger fade-out--after Patrick gets wounded in the final fracas. Strong supporting characters and crisp Charlottesville backgrounds again suggest that Hornig has talent. Otherwise, however, with routine plotting and often banal narration (â€¦ la Robert B. Parker, more or less), Swift's second case doesn't fulfill the modest promise of Foul Shot.