Stolid debut featuring California p.i. Jeri Howard, divorced from Oakland homicide cop Sid Vernon, who passed on this missing person's case to her. St. Martin's and the Private Eye Writers Association named it best first novel of the year. Renee Mills Foster left her bruised baby with her in-laws for the day, then vanished. Her husband wants her back. The problem? When Jeri tries to track Renee down, she meets various and sundry of her relatives, discovers that she married under an alias, has a porno star for a kid sister, and her older brother Mark has done time in San Quentin for murdering their parents 15 years ago. Meanwhile, someone's tailing Jeri; a pair of goons beat her up; and she's attracted to Mark, a past-murderer--or is he? One death and many sluggish, predictable explanations later, Renee and her past come together, in a manner surprising to no one, reader included. Truly a white-bread mystery: boring heroine, ordinary dialogue, dull denouement. Undaunted, Dawson, a legal secretary, is planning a sequel.