Scruffy San Francisco shamus Nick Polo's fifth outing shows him at bis best: this time out, he earns a fat fee recovering some priceless stolen paintings for a client whose title to them is none too clear--and whose family members are the main suspects. Cajoled into squiring longtime girlfriend Jane Tobin to a House the Homeless benefit at the Martel family's posh digs by the promise of a back-room poker game, Polo cleans out the opposition--including bumptious, menacing hayseed Chuck Bodine--while persons unknown are doing the same to Claude Martel's safe, having got the combination from smooth son Lionel by cutting off his finger tip. Papa Martel hires Nick to get the paintings back, neglecting to tell him that he liberated the paintings huggermugger from occupied Germany. No problem, because Interpol agent Gene Lembi is at hand to whisper such secrets into Pole's ear--as are Martel's cuddly wife Denise and his statuesque daughter Michelle, both of whom get to whisper lots of other things during the time Polo hangs around the Martel house waiting for the thieves to call with an offer to sell the canvases back. The details of the heist and payoff and Pole's usual brushes with death (this time courtesy of a bomb linked to churlish Bodine) won't keep you on the edge of your seat, but Pole's at his most raffishly amusing throughout. Highly recommended for people who read mysteries for the detective's company rather than for the action or puzzle. Plotting isn't Kennealy's strong point, but then it wasn't Rex Stout's either.