Another convoluted plot for moody California shamus Jake Asch, who again--despite a solid, downbeat/ironic narrating style--fails to be quite the engaging, amusing narratorhero he was in his first few outings. This time Jake is investigating in Laguna, hired by old-flame Sharon to prove that her lawyer-husband Hugh Canning didn't commit carcrash suicide. (If it's suicide, there's no insurance payoff.) So lake looks into Canning's law practice--which seems to have involved a huge case-load of accident-case settlements (involving a massive, semi-shady ambulance-chasing operation). He's also suspicious about a local tycoon who more or less cheated Canning in a land deal--especially since the tycoon is in cahoots with a very nervous Dr. Feelgood in the neighborhood. But the most intriguing puzzle involves one of the autopsy findings: Canning, apparently unbeknownst to both him and his doctor, would have died soon anyway--from a rare sort of aplastic anemia! Various thugs hinder Jake's sleuthings, at one point creating ""an Avis shish kebab"" with Jake's rented car. Along the way there's explicit sex and dreary relationship-chat with client Sharon. And finally, after a good twist or two and several neat character-sketches, the bad guys get sorted out. ("" 'It's like a fucking Agatha Christie novel,' one of the investigating detectives remarked after we had managed to get across to him that Canning had been murdered twice by seven people."") Okay for fans of the tangled/dour So. California genre, but fairly disappointing for Asch fans--who'll especially notice the paucity of memorable, Lyons-style dialogue.