A slightly-below-par outing for Sergeant Masao Masuto of Beverly Hills--who could hardly be expected to return with another all-out triumph so soon after The Case of the Sliding Pool. This time Masuto is called in when superstar Mike Barton reports the kidnapping of his gorgeous wife Angel, though Barton wants no police involvement: he's ready to pay the million-dollar ransom. And, indeed, Angel is soon back home safe and sound. But Barton is found dead at the ransom drop-off spot; Angel is found dead in her bedroom only a few hours later; and Masuto, who has smelled something fishy all along (the kidnapping was a tax-evasion fake, the Mike/Angel marriage was a sham, Angel has an enigmatic past), must eventually identify three different murderers with three different motives. Along the way, unfortunately, there's too much repetitious chatter (among the Barton hangers-on). And there's little of the texture and character that deepen the best Masutos. Still: short, fast, with one good twist--and even lesser Masuto is a better bet than most.