Adler (Sooner or Later, 1997, etc.) may have moved from cream-stuffed romance to sensuously creamy suspense, but she’s still heavy on the gardenia scent and crushed velvet. Retired New Orleans homicide detective Al Giraud is now a private investigator in L.A., where law professor and ex-DA Marla Cwitowitz falls for him and decides she wants to be a p.i. too—Al’s partner, in fact. The couple trade a ton of martinis and Nick-and-Nora sexual badinage, but never in a Dashiell Hammett mystery does a tanned p.i. wear an “ankle-length silk jersey skirt slit to the thigh, and a tiny white chiffon top embroidered with pale green butterflies.— In a La Jolla bar, Al and Marla see Laurie Martin, a tall, unmarried, blond realtor with good legs and a gold snake ring, pushing a Laguna Beach seaside house on electronics executive Steve Mallard. He may be married, but Mallard looks like a dead duck after dining with Laurie for two weeks in a fruitless search for the right house. When Laurie disappears and her car is found with blood on the backseat, Steve is the prime suspect. He hires Al and Marla to find Laurie’s missing body and exonerate him. Later, dogs sniff out a body at the bottom of a canyon near where the bloody car was found. What tie did or does Laurie Martin have to Bonnie Victor, other than owning the same dog? Is Laurie Martin even Laurie Martin? When Marla and Steve’s wife, Vickie, are attacked with a knife in the Mallards— kitchen, will Vickie emerge from the resulting coma? The climax is a literal cliffhanger—presumably because villains no longer tie heroines to the railroad tracks. Call this film noir on silk sheets.