The second Ellie Bernstein mystery is just as heavy-handed and empty of witty repartee as the first (Throw Darts at a Cheesecake, 1992), and it's saddled with an even more pedestrian plot. Bernstein is a wonderful heroine -- a collection of opportunities lost. Now that she's gotten rid of her philandering husband and kept off those extra 55 pounds, she can revel in her job, her earthy affair with Lt. Miller, and her search for the serial killer drawn to M*A*S*H character look-alikes. Although Dietz manages to connect the killer's inner turmoil over infidelity to Bernstein's, nothing is made of it, and the various villains are sketched so lightly as to be almost invisible. Bernstein herself is only potentially interesting. Dietz has the fight character, the right lover, and a sharp eye for the humorous detritus of American life; she knows how to pick the elements, but not what to do with them. There is no cat-and-mouse game between Bernstein and the killer, no good puzzles or red herrings. Lacking a real commitment to both characters and craft. Better luck next time.