As soon as her Navy husband's hitch in Guam is up, battered wife Ruth Raynor, back in Oakland, splits with their daughter Wendy and hires p.i. Jeri Howard (Kindred Crimes, 1990) to pry Sam Raynor loose from half the $100,000 he's socked away somewhere. When the usual bank inquiries turn up nothing, Jeri figures Sam must have stashed the money with a friend or relative. But before she can track it down, Sam gets himself shot in Ruth's building, and the police arrest Ruth for his murder, not realizing that Sam made so many enemies--his first wife Denise Padillo, his girlfriends Tiffany Collins and Claudia Yancy, their three husbands, to begin with--that people were queuing up for the chance to kill him. Unfortunately, the large cast's cars- -Tiffany's stolen Mercedes and fallback Subaru (``Thumper''), Claudia's Nissan, the orange-and-black tigermobile of Sam's hell- raising sidekick Harlan Pettibone--are as personable as their owners. Too much of a good thing: enough suspects and motives for a whole rogues' gallery, without the kind of imaginative vision that might pull it all together the way Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky have done.