Detective Thomas Black, Seattle's answer to Boston's Spenser, finds a laugher of a case: four middle-aged, successful but middling unhappy guys hire him to trace, and then arrange dates with, their dreamgirls (a former high-school cheerleader; a Mariner season ticket-holder; a porn pinup; a former TV newscaster). But the job all too quickly turns brutal when one of Thomas's leads is battered into a coma; her two kids are tracked by goons who want them bad enough to hang Thomas (almost fatally) for information; and when one of the men looking for a date is murdered, along with a transvestite relative of the ex-cheerleader. Could the dates be a cover-up for something else? Thomas eventually ties one of the foursome to a 20-year-old hit-and-run case, as well as to a dirty cop on his own payroll who killed to keep his secret. Mean and lean with genially tongue-in-cheek patter between Thomas and his ladylove, lawyer Kathy. Though less than top-notch for Emerson, it's still going to give the competition—Parker and Lutz, for example—a few jealous twinges.