Wilcox's 30th novel starts off with a routine gay-bashing in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood that turns not-so-routine when the late Charles Hardaway's phone records link him and his AIDS-stricken roommate, Randy Carpenter, to Carpenter's old school friend Harold Best. Best is the clean-cut candidate for the US Senate who was paying Carpenter's AZT bills--and may have been paying Hardaway blackmail as well. How eager were Best's ambitious wife and her kingmaker father to hide his bisexual past from the tabloids--and how much more eager will they be now to send Lt. Frank Hastings (Switchback, 1993, etc.) back to San Francisco with his tail between his legs? Pro forma professionalism from a veteran, with a particularly deft use of Hastings's office romance with Insp. Janet Collier to ratchet up the tension as Hastings closes in on his prey.