Energetic Washington-based p.i. Anna Peters (Infected Be the Air, 1991, etc.) is hired by Independence Mutual Insurance when famed actor Henry Brook dies, seemingly by accidental drowning, on location for The Lazarus Gambit, his latest movie. Henry's manager and ex-wife Marylin is beneficiary of his million-dollar policy. The movie production, headed by volatile genius director Len Rossol, is insured for millions more. Now, Anna is to investigate the possibility of suicide, which would get Independence off the hook. What she finds, though, are a possibility of murder and a secret about Brook known to very few. Anna's sleuthing involves taking a trip to New York, where she views chunks of the film, including outtakes; visiting the upstate location where Brook died; and getting to know the oddball actors and hangers-on. There's some fun in all this, aided by the author's wry, first-person narrative, but the plot is an elaborately manufactured product--the clanking gears almost audible--and the unsurprising villain fuzzily motivated and unconvincing. The mechanics of movie- making, well-researched, add some interest, but not enough. Heavy going.