Hired by Mrs. Cynthia Kincade to find her runaway husband, East Texas shamus Dan Roman (From a High Place, Dark Streaks and Empty Places) locates a repentant Ralph Kincade in L.A., persuades him to return home--and almost immediately hears that Ralph has been murdered. The obvious suspects? The dead man's straying wife, his rebelliously trampy daughter, and his appealing-yet-secretive teen-age son. But Dan, reluctantly working for the short-handed local police, soon establishes that all three Kincades have solid alibis. (The sleuthing here leads Dan to moody run-ins with old flame Maggie Lane, a classy call girl,) And the puzzle is further complicated when another murder--that of a rich old man on the other side of town--is committed with the very same gun that killed Ralph Kincade. Is a random psycho at work? Or are the two murders, apparently unrelated, somehow linked? Mathis frankly borrows his central plot-twist here from a crime-fiction classic--and some readers will pick up the heavy-handed hint early on. Also, to an even greater extent than in previous outings, Dan's low-key narration is marred by lapses into verbose prose-poetry that strains for eloquence and usually achieves only puffy blandness. Still, with crisp dialogue, steady pacing, and good small-city backgrounds, this is serviceable fare in a somber, medium-boiled mode.