Following in the footsteps of such others as Kiss Mommy Goodbye: the ordeal of Lael Pritcher, 28, whose five-year-old son Ace is first child-snatched, then kidnapped by divorced father Mike. Outside Seattle, Lael runs hex successful Salt-Water Herb Farm--while Mike (from whom she's at first only separated) is a foul egotist whose shopping center has failed. Asthmatic kid Ace, however, loves his Dad best--so Mike has no trouble snatching the kid. . . though a stroke of luck returns Ace to Lael after the first abduction. Then, however, after the divorce is made final, Mike well and truly kidnaps Ace. As usual, the law is not much help. And so Lael (while reluctantly falling for Jewish lawyer Van) spends a year chasing wild geese, meeting defeat after defeat despite twice tracking Mike down to the very doorstep of his hideouts; she even plunges into an icy fiver (where she thinks Ace has drowned) and nearly drowns herself. At last, however, Lael gets a lead on Mike being in Mexico and takes off for a lone search through nightmarish towns, Spanish dictionary in hand, gun in her handbag. And there's a tear-jerking nightmare finale--with Ace thought dead, then alive, then dying. Child-kidnap melodrama at its broadest, far less believably arranged than Kiss Mommy Goodbye--but those who go along will find a certain crude momentum here.