Garland Wyatt used to be a Legal Services lawyer in Dallas until (in just about no time) it got to be too much for him. Everything got to be too much for him--and as Works' debut novel opens, Wyatt is at loose ends in Mexico, ends that quickly ravel when he encounters a lunatic (with pretty much the same genteel and wealthy and educated roots as Wyatt's own) who almost shoots him. Wyatt decides that Dallas, fraught as it is with uncertainty, may be safer--and back he hies. There, he tries (while fighting against an overwhelming glacier of anomie) to repair relations first with his girlfriend, Sara Cunningham, as well as with his widower father, a prominent judge. Sara, though, has been temporarily occupied in the meanwhile with a remarkably sleazy real-estate hustler named Bing (who is the book's best if most reptilian character; he's sharper than everyone else put together); and Wyatt's father has just about lost patience with his grown-up son's utter confusion, drift. Written in the WASP-raffish style of early Thomas McGuane, the novel affects a lighter line-by-line tone than its dark resolution quite squares with. Works writes crisply, with a side-smirk authority--yet, excepting Bing, no character here really does much beyond the expected, what's been hinted at for them upon introduction. Works' talent, though, should deepen--and his next book bears some attending.