I knew from the beginning that I never should gotten involved in politics."" So says Oakland narrator-shamus Jake Samson (Free Draw, etc.) when his new acquaintance Joe Richmond--charismatic gubernatorial candidate of the tiny, environmentalist ""Vivo Party""--is found swinging naked from a tree limb, an apparent victim of suicideby-hanging. Richmond's new girlfriend begs Jake, an unlicensed p.i., to prove that the handsome politician was in fact murdered. So, with the customary assistance of sidekick Rosie (lesbian-feminist carpenter), Jake starts collecting suspects and motives. There are Richmond's three rivals for the Vivo nomination--one extremist, one sell-out, and one with a sexual secret in her past. There are 'also, gathered in Minnesota for Richmond's funeral, some quirky relatives: the dead man's estranged wife, a frosty poet; his sexy sexagenarian mother; his loving yet rivahous brother. And things become even more complicated when, after Jake survives a near-fatal immersion in a hotel bathtub, he gets an anonymous tip that a Vivo splinter-group is planning to fake a toxic ""accident"" (at a chemical plant) that will draw millions of voters to the Vivos in the upcoming election! The plotting here-especially when major clues are delivered in stagey anonymous phone-calls--is somewhat ragged. The crucial motivations are only half-plausible. But wry, skeptical, easygoing Jake remains fine company--whether observing the Marin County scene, trading quips with poker buddies, or reacting to a wack-oultimatum from his latest girlfriend.