California motive-go-round #4 for Dave Brandstetter--insurance investigator, gently hard-boiled sleuth, and unmannered homosexual. Police Chief Ben Orton, a big man and leading bigot in La Caleta on the Pacific, is dead. By the body: a smashed flower pot and a tote-bag belonging to Cliff Kerlee, the local hysterical homosexual-rights' protester. But less obviously framed suspects abound. Orton's daughter's black boyfriend, whom Orton framed and sent to Soledad prison. Kerlee's enemies within the gay-rights movement. Or perhaps even Orton's worshipping widow. Dave grills them all, befriending a 70-year-old failed painter and bedding a 20-year-old black student along the way. This casual liaison is no more convincingly tender than its heterosexual counterparts in other sleuth books, but Hansen is a strong, lean describer of West Coast scenes (like Ross Macdonald before he went arty), and the layers of motives are peeled away with cool, dry, quiet professionalism.