Halloween week is anything but festive for Det. Marti MacAlister and her partner Vik Jessenovik. There's the case of pregnant Ladiya Norris, who came all the way from Chicago to Lincoln Prairie to fall, or get pushed, from a bridge to the beach below. (Her unsavory married boyfriend, Barry Knox, has enough strikes against him, from drug-dealing to wife-beating, to motivate a dozen homicides.) There's the case of Dare (nÆ’ George Washington Jones), missing buddy of Marti's streetcorner snitch Isaac, who's convinced that he didn't just move on--he was moved. There's the case of the pumpkin-suit flasher, a seasonal wacko who hasn't been caught in seven years--and won't be this year unless Marti and Vik can bring themselves to team up with a pair of vice cops as lazy as they are inept. There's trouble at school with an iron-willed teacher determined to split up Marti's son Theo and her fiancÆ’ Ben Walker's son Mike, even though they've gone all through school together. There's the self-lacerating search of Marti's housemate Sharon for true love, or whatever she can find instead. But the biggest threat is one Marti doesn't even know about: the stalker who's moved into her house part-time in preparation for executing her whole family. Bland's blunt honesty about her characters' conflicted emotions makes this the best of Marti's six cases (Keep Still, 1996, etc.) to date, even though individual storylines stay stubbornly distinct.