A disappointing second outing for California child-psychologist Alex Delaware (When The Bough Breaks, 1985); this time he tracks down a little boy desperately in need of cancer treatment. Narrator-sleuth Delaware lives in semiretirement, feeding his koi and practicing self-hypnosis, but when his friend Dr. Raoul Melendez-Lynch of the Western Pediatric Medical Center calls to tell him that the parents of a little boy with cancer want to remove him from treatment, Alex agrees to help. He meets Garland and Emma Swope, the parents, their daughter Nona (a sultry, surly beauty), and the sick boy, Woody. Both he and Melandez-Lynch think the Swopes want to take Woody back to the little town of La Vista, in Southern California, to receive holistic treatment from a cult called The Touch, run by a crazy-like-a-fox ex-California lawyer calling himself Noble Matthias (the entire cult turns out to be a front for his cocaine operation). But when Woody disappears, a search of the cult's country retreat turns up nothing--instead, Garland and Emma are found murdered in a ravine, and Nona is missing. Delaware starts sleuthing in earnest and discovers that Woody is actually Nona's son--the product of an incestuous relationship between Garland and Nons. Meanwhile, Nona is having an affair with La Vista Sheriff Ray Houten, who is actually her father, having had an affair years before with Emma--although Ray is blissfully unaware of this. Delaware finally tracks Nona down to a sleazy trailer where she's living with a crazy beach boy/male prostitute named Doug Carmichael, and hiding Woody, who's burning up with fever. Carmichael nearly kills Delaware (as he'd killed the Swopes after kidnapping Woody with Nons); But Houten shows up, kills Carmichael, and is himself killed by Nons after she tauntingly tells him the terrible truth about their relationship. Nons is arrested, and Delaware brings Woody back in time to save his life. A twisted, contrived, and turgid story with red herrings the size of small whales, and a stumbling, murky finale.