A greedy killer hitches his wagon to an acquaintance’s fat inheritance, in TV writer Phillips’s TV-ish first novel. Like Barton Hubble, Phillips follows the money—the $65 million fortune that San Francisco attorney Graham Maxwell’s amassed over his career. When a fatal plane crash (secretly engineered by a perfidious mechanic) turns that fortune into a lavish estate that Maxwell’s daughter, Jenna Perry, will share with her husband David, Phillips puts the screws to their marriage: David catches Jenna cheating and walks out; Jenna threatens to cut off his visitation rights to Lily, the 13-year-old daughter he adores; David accuses Jenna of using Lily to pressure him into a financial settlement. Enter Hubble, a car mechanic who insinuates himself into David’s life, hears about the troubles David’s having at home, then obligingly goes out and kills the little woman. Just a favor for a friend, he tells David when he phones to get his blackmail threat rolling: Unless David comes across with a cool $5 million, Hubble, who’s obviously seen Strangers on a Train, will plant evidence on the murder scene that’ll have the cops hot on David’s trail. The plan is diabolical, but Hubble isn’t, because his penny-dreadful threats (he’ll tip off the cops, he’ll find a way to get close to Lily) are constantly getting upstaged by the torrid romance David has kindled with Inspector Jane Candiotti, who prefers his embraces to those of her dependable, boring partner Kenny Marks. As Hubble fumes in the background, David and Jane enjoy romantic trysts overlooking great Bay Area sights and, from time to time, fret over the mounting body count. Knowledgeable fans of the psychokiller genre will see the single surprise in this familiar scenario a long way off; the target audience most likely to be surprised might just as well wait for the inevitable telemovie, which won’t have any trouble condensing the story to two hours.