Matt Murdock, Orange County's Marlowe man (Dial ""M"" for Murdock, etc.), is hired to find who hit-and-ran over Texas Senator Jane Blasingame's runaway daughter in a California shopping mall--and the trail intersects with another daughter's search for her dad, who had come to the mall to rescue her from an abusive stepfather (whom he'd threatened). The senator's daughter is soon murdered in her hospital bed, while the other daughter, Cindy, is at the mercy of her wealthy grandfather--Wheeler Duke--who's deep into real-estate construction wheeling/dealing, which necessitates his hiring ""The General,"" a Vietnam pal of Murdock's, for protection. The General tries to warn Murdock off, then buy him off, then kill him; but before the abused Cindy's real dad's final moments can be figured out, her stepdad has brutalized a few more minors (also killed one); Murdock has taken a couple of hard knocks from Wheeler Duke's goons; and Senator Jane's gone back to Texas to grieve for her lost child, while Cindy's mom is in a drugrehab clinic. Solid writing this time, and told with a professional flourish if not innovative touch. Murdock is fleshing out, maturing. The best in the series to date, with encouraging signs for the next.