Sid Shale, the hero of Cotler's new series, thinks he can find a peaceful retreat from his NYPD berth by retiring to Long Island to paint. It's a bad idea for three reasons. One: Cassie Brennan, a teenager who insists on modeling nude for him, gets her throat cut at restauranteur Misha Sharanov's neighboring house. Two: Seated Girl, one of Sid's best nude studies of Cassie, earns him the wrath of her grieving parents and the lasting interest of suspicious county cop Sgt. John Docherty; and it looks as if Texas heiress Tess Turkinton's plan to talk her daddy into buying it as a present for Misha to entice him into a new restaurant partnership is going to fall through--particularly once Ben Turkinton realizes that Misha may not want to hang up an oil painting of the girl who was killed in his bedroom. Three: A pencil sketch of Misha's place (including some telltale details) helps convince Docherty that Sid didn't kill Cassie himself--and gets him on the wrong side of Misha and his endless supply of Russian goons. Though never exactly convincing as a painter, Sid comes across more successfully as a slightly overwhelmed lover (of his ex-wife and dealer Lonnie Morgenstern, of Sharanov's alleged lover Olivia Cooper, and of Tess Turkinton) and a sharply observant detective. Only the lightweight villain, who seems too rabbity even to have gone up against a teenaged girl, is a disappointment. Bright, lightweight fare from a writer who can do much better (Prime Candidate, 1996, etc.).