Is Thea Kozak mellowing? Her third case (Death in a Funhouse Mirror, 1995, etc.) has her taking time off from her grind as an educational consultant just because her unpleasable mother thinks fragile Julie Bass is getting railroaded over the car-crash death of her controlling husband Cal, and because Julie really seems to be crying out for help, and because she reminds Thea of her dead sister Carrie. Next thing you know, the cops have arrested Julie--who (Just imagine!) has a past as a whiz working on race cars--and Thea's sneaking into her house to grab some of her old love letters to Cal from under the prying eyes of the police, and questioning Julie's rumored beau Dr. Thomas Durren, and her alarmingly direct brother Duncan Donahue, and Eliot Ramsey, Cars slimy boss at Grantham Cooperative Bank, and Cal's latest conquest, icy snob Nan Devereaux, and not losing her temper with any of them (although La Devereaux does prattle on about her genital warts). It's her parents she loses her temper with, at an engagement party for her brother that's the high point of the book, though hardly of Thea's life. For the rest, Thea undergoes enough near-death experiences (getting run off the road, getting attacked by a pair of thugs who run themselves off the road, getting run off the road again in a car with no steering, going up against the extraneous nutcase who's taken her man, Maine state detective Andre Lemieux, hostage) for an inspirational autobiography, but these adventures seem to be hurled at her with no more pattern than a kid's lobbing snowballs. As always in Flora, the suspects are all marvelously guilty-looking, but the plot this time is so rickety you can't blame Thea for losing her edge.