The gritty talent that flared in The Fire Watch (1980) and Getting Away with Murder (1981) only flickers a little in Burke's third suspense novel: a creaky whodunit that's textured--but not convincingly--with homicidal mania, government corruption, and suburban adultery. James Goodfellow, bland accountant, has been shot dead in his driveway--apparently by wife Georgine, who promptly (if vaguely) confesses. But Assistant D.A. Jack Meehan can't quite believe that sincere, sexy Georgine (a childhood chum) really killed her husband. Furthermore, Meehan becomes convinced that the murder is somehow linked to two other homicides: the mob-style killing of a local burglar; and the murder of an elderly private-eye who was investigating a warranty scare at the town's big VW dealership. Then. as the terrified Georgine begins to tell Meehan some of the real story, his suspicions focus on the two powers-that-be at the VW dealership--one of whom is Georgine's demonic lover, a psycho-killer who's utterly cool and ruthless. And there'll be several more deaths--and a melodramatic chase/siege finale--before the supervillain is definitively, unsurprisingly, unmasked. Assistant D.A. Meehan--lusting after Georgine but loving his wife, refusing to go along with a tidy cover-up--is a streetwise, semi-appealing hero. Many of the vignettes along the way, from underworld hangouts to courthouse corridors, are tautly atmospheric. But Burke's stark, tough style often becomes self-consciously mannered here. (Especially annoying: dialogue delivered in sentence fragments.) And the basic plot depends on an unpersuasive psycho, a dubious sexual obsession, and--to keep the killer's identity a Secret--too many feeble narrative tricks.