Stopping at a gay bar on the way home to his husband Peter Livesay, freelance commercial artist Alex Reynolds offers a cigarette to the stranger who's just given him a light--and the next thing you know he and his partner are getting threatened with death and worse by foreign hooligans convinced that the stranger passed Alex a matchbook they really want back. Even before he finds the matchbook and tries to appease the killers (by now they've executed the stranger), Alex is not without potential allies: His mother Jean, a stage Brit, is still friendly with Chicago police area commander Frank O'Neil--but she doesn't want to revive her romance with Frank, and while she dithers (dropping her h's and saying ``bloody'' a lot, so you can tell she's the genuine article), Alex's attempt to play ball with James Martin, the CIA agent who's come to Jean's house, are stymied by his finding out that Martin's an imposter. Promising complications, you'd think--but Hunter (Ransom for Our Sins, 1996, etc.) still can't rouse himself to thicken the plot. Alex and Peter have no trouble getting the key to search the suspected killer's hotel room. A staged drop of the mysterious matchbook leaves somebody else dead, but not Alex. Peter is kidnapped, but it's no trouble getting him back. In short, Hunter manages to construct a mystery-thriller in which the hero is never in any serious danger from the killers, an international gang of kidnappers, the phony CIA agent, or the real powers that be. Alex thinks he's in a gay North by Northwest. All that's missing from this sprightly update is laughs, danger, thrills, and paranoia more than an inch deep.