Barbara Joan Bradley, San Diego child-abuse investigator, is promised that her newest case--Weppo, a young boy abandoned on a Paiute Indian reservation--will be routine. But Weppo, apparently retarded but actually deaf, is being hunted by two shadowy gunmen who kill a hospital orderly when he foils their attempt to shoot Weppo. Warned off the case by her rule-bound supervisor, Bo, fighting the demons of her own manic-depression, follows a slender clue to Houston and discovers that well-connected political hopeful Tia Rowe is determined to stamp out every trace of the boy's existence. So it's back to San Diego, where Bo snatches Weppo from his court-appointed foster parents and goes on the run half a step ahead of the killers. Routine bogeymen and a strained climax, but Padgett's debut stands out for Bo's memorable battles with her tormenting gifts (heightened perceptions, intuitions, delusions). Given the manic- depressive bent of detectives ever since Sherlock Holmes, why hasn't anybody thought of all this before?