Jumped, fell, pushed? Whichever the case, Rob Lawter has certainly gone out the window of his fifth-floor apartment. And he is certainly dead. So once again there’s Oakland p.i. Jeri Howard, back for a seventh outing, in something of a quandary: this time, her client, now deceased, had retained her to perform a service he had not got around to specifying. Well, it’s not much of a quandary—because, of course, Rob was pushed, and Jeri won’t rest until justice is served. But there’s not much to go on. At their first and only meeting, Rob, a poor but honest paralegal at Bates, Inc., the food-processing giant (cereal, beans, dairy products), had been nervous, obviously worried. He’d told her little, promised to say more in a day or so when he was surer of himself. He had, however, produced for her scrutiny this highly unfriendly note: “Back off if you know what’s good for you.” So with her client suddenly (and suspiciously) posthumous, Jeri decides that something is as rotten at Bates as it ever was in Denmark. Rob, she’s convinced, was a wannabe whistle-blower trying to muster the courage. But to reveal what? Undercover, she goes, in Bates’s legal department, sniffing away in file cabinets and computer banks. Before long, she discovers two varieties of contamination—one emanating from a bacteria-laden shipment of the company’s ice cream, the other from the smelly conspiracy to cover that up. Standard for this series (A Credible Threat, 1997, etc.). Which is to say the puzzle is decently presented and legitimately solved, but Jeri’s as unrelievedly bland as Bates vanilla.