An all-too-successful true-crime writer grapples with two gruesome murder cases--and revisits a third, the occasion for her first successful book and her estrangement from her father. Garner Quinn had never been close to the her remote, undemonstrative father, Dudley Quinn III, even before he had defended pop singer Dulcie Mariah on the charge of killing her son--a case Garner turned into Rock-a-Bye Baby, her first bestseller, and a lifelong quarrel with Dudley. Now, in the middle of following the case of Jefferson (""Bird"") Turner--an alleged serial killer dubbed the Holy Ghost whose latest victim has just reversed her damning testimony, claiming that she inflicted those hideous wounds on herself as punishment for her promiscuity and then lied about Jeff's involvement--Garner suddenly wants out. Where does she retreat? To another murder, of course, this one conveniently located near her New Jersey home. The alleged killer this time is sculptor Dane Blackmoor, an old family friend Garner had tried in vain to make into a father-figure while her own father was up to his neck in Dulcie Mariah's defense. Human body parts have been ghoulishly tumbling out of Blackmoor's uncannily lifelike castings of human figures, and Garner, who's never gotten over Blackmoor's refusal to take her father's place, joins the hunt to find out what happened to Blackmoor's missing assistant Torie Wood. Since Waterhouse (Playing for Keeps, 1987) is better at setting up striking situations than at developing them logically--as a mystery this story is an unqualified mess--much of Garner's overheated finally-coming-of-age seems to have been scrawled on the back of a napkin awaiting the ministrations of a rewrite team. Still, Waterhouse writes a mean page, if you don't mind suspending your disbelief all over again at the beginning of every chapter.