A new Japanese owner has taken over that La Jolla institution the Hotel California, but it still seems to security director Am Caulfield (The Hotel Detective, 1994) that nothing goes right. The grunion run advertised to bring out shoals of fish watchers has produced, instead of grunion, a beached whale; the caterer asked to supply chicken divan for a Jewish wedding has instead sent 200 inedible portions of chicken cordon bleu; a rookie marketer who didn't ask enough questions about a group called the Swap Meat now reports that she's booked a convention of swingers; and the Union of Near-Death Experiences Retreat (UNDER) has been treated to an unexpected dose of death for keeps when Dr. Thomas Kingsbury, the scientist who's made a second career of exposing fraudulent spiritualists, turns up murdered at the height of the festivities. Except for Kingsbury's dying words--``Be positive''--there's not much evidence to go on, but en route to solving this mystery, Am will also expose a restaurant freeloader, figure out who's been promising all those gullible young men that they're the hotel's new assistant manager, and provide his inscrutable boss with an image for his long-coveted crest. Ebullient and irresistible, with unflappable Am providing enough common sense to anchor the zany subplots. All that's lacking is the O.J. Simpson jury.