Prairie chickens--they're actually grouse--are an endangered species, but that doesn't bother whoever shot one of them on broker Lance Garrison's ranch. Knowing Galveston investigator Truman Smith's experience with animal homicides (Gator Kill, 1992), Garrison asks him to look into the slaying, even though Smith once broke his nose and was once in love with Anne Lindeman, whose father-in-law manages the Garrison ranch. How will Smith handle Anne's awkward husband Paul, manager of KLWG, Garrison's Picketville radio station? Well, that turns out not to be a problem, since Paul promptly gets himself killed--jarring loose all sorts of rumors about KLWG's resident ranter Ralph Evans; about bird-watcher Martin York, who likes both grouse and Anne; and about the late Lloyd Abbott, a private eye who maybe didn't hang himself at the local jail after all. Lazily understated, with a surprisingly energetic windup- -even if that inconsequential grouse is no Maltese Falcon.