Whatever he's been doing since Storme Front (1995), Wyatt Storme's been working on his act. He doesn't talk so much about doing manly stuff; instead, when his TV newshound girlfriend Sandra Collingsworth phones him from North Branson to say that the local cops are harassing her and stonewalling her investigation into coed Francine Wilson's date rape, he just narrows his eyes, packs his artillery, and heads out there, after a quick call to bring Chick Easton, his compadre in Colorado, into the action. Storme doesn't give an inch to anybody in conversation with or without fisticuffs or deadly force, so of course he gets the runaround from police chief Alec York, the Lt. Governor's brother, and Sandra gets doped and raped by--country star Travis Conrad, Francine's date? Tad Bodrine, Conrad's bodyguard? Bully-boy Officer Bredwell or junior bully Officer Pethmore? But Storme's consort is hardly slowed down by this trauma; soon she's inviting Chief York to comment on the story she's filing about possible connections between the murders of Francine Wilson (for whom rape was not, sadly, the worst that could happen) and a frightened good-time girl; the land scheme hatched by So-Mo Holding Company, which certainly thinks big; and a cover-up involving, it seems, every tin star in Missouri. All right, Ripley isn't exactly a master of the understated plot. The good news is that Storme has acquired some of the catlike moves of the early Spenser, before he got to be such a prig.