Damp and a little rotten, New Orleans is the setting for a short, fast police thriller about sleazy real-estate dealings and fat-free romance--by the author of Profit and Sheen (1986) and No Special Hurry (1988). Too thin but not too rich, the up-from-the-streets New Orleans detective who calls himself Skinny--and who speaks of himself exclusively in the third person--whiles away the income-free days of his suspension from the force (for crashing too many police cars) ogling Karen Hedges, the resident sunbathing beauty at the semi-seedy apartment complex where Skinny provides security in exchange for shelter. It is a distinct pleasure then when Skinny's colleague tips him off to Karen's apparent involvement in a fatal arson case, giving Skinny a chance to get to know his lovely neighbor much better. But pretty is as pretty does. Gently reared but poorly funded Karen is in the thick of frantic efforts by well-born, ruthless developers to turn a seedy warehouse district into a profitable package deal. Whose side is Karen on, and why is arson victim and insurance opportunist Start Lee trying to kill her? Some of the answers may be forthcoming from Ruth, secretary to Karen's business partners. Not only is Ruth every bit as skinny as Skinny, but she doesn't mind the third-person patter. She even slings some herself. Okay, but not much meat on the bones.