Billings, Montana, during a killer winter is the setting of this third Phoebe Siegel outing (The Killing of Monday Brown, 1994, etc.), with the contemporary West once again providing a charismatic venue for violence. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Maitland approaches p.i. Siegel before the upcoming election: He hopes to clear his reputation once and for all of the murder of his wealthy wife, found prostitutionally clad and terminally battered in a motel of ill-repute 27 years before. Phoebe soon parts ways with Maitland, a self-serving sleaze, but now--fortified by independent means to accompany her independent attitude--she pursues without client the case of the enigmatic Ellen Dahl Maitland, heiress to old money and old evil. Gathering information from an ex-con and a professional snitch--both soon murdered--and a retired madam who continues to thrive, Phoebe finally joins forces with her dad's old police partner. Her efforts will reveal the truth without quite achieving justice. Between professional challenges, however, Phoebe belts Nyquil and has scraps with mom, siblings, and boyfriend in a way that threatens to undercut a denouement with some of the majesty of Ross Macdonald. An overbusy story, with an overbearing heroine, is redeemed by genuine readability and wit--plus an atmosphere that makes it a natural between the covers. Prowell's tour of snow-blasted Billings puts it most colorfully on the map of our collective imagination.