Adams, author of the Depression-era Carl Wilcox series (The Barbed Wire Noose, p. 595), now introduces a contemporary narrator-hero: Kyle Champion, an unemployed local-TV anchorman who turns shamus--when his icy old-flame Daphne, down in Houston, reports that her older millionaire-hubby, Oren P. Fletcher III, has disappeared somewhere in Mexico. (She doesn't want him back--just declared officially dead.) Soon, then, Kyle is following the trail of eccentric philanthropist Fletcher, first to Guadalajara (where someone tries to run him down), then to Guanajuato--where Fletcher palled around with a wise old Mexican guide and his half-American, femme fatale daughter. Meanwhile, though semi-mesmerized by the femme fatale, Kyle develops a romance back in Houston with Fletcher's appealing, ambitious secretary. (She want to run the missing man's charitable foundation.) And, shuttling back and forth between Mexico and Texas, the amateur sleuth encounters several other intriguing suspects--the creepy patron-founder of an unusual old-folks' home, Fletcher's middle-aged mistress, Mrs. Fletcher's lawyer-boyfriend--before unearthing the missing man's body and reconstructing his disappearance. Leanly effective atmosphere, darkly droll dialogue, and solid jolts of gun/chase action: a crisp, savvy series-debut--even if Kyle himself is more generic (the ironic, hard-boiled type) than distinctive.