Twenty-five years after Loren Mensing's law school love Kimberly Hale vanished from his life, she pops up again while he's a visiting prof at NYU Law School--but then, after a late- night phone call begging him to meet her, and a glimpse of her just before he's attacked at the Staten Island Ferry terminal, she's gone again. And Loren (Corrupt and Ensnare, 1978) is left only with Kim's lead to Joyce Clarke, whose father, Judge Howard Clarke, ordered the release of demented killer Jonathan Bloch and was killed three years ago by the mother of one of Bloch's victims. Seems that Joyce has organized a network of vigilante avengers she'd like Loren to join--except that she's killed herself moments after she makes her pitch, and Loren's left holding the bag again. Luckily, another ex-lover, p.i. Val Tremaine, is standing by to fly with him to St. Louis, share his bed, and help him bring down the conspirators, the free-lance killers, the counter-conspirators, and the miscellaneous loose cannons who lurk in hospital corridors, in subterranean caves, and at a climactic NYU reception for Justice Harry Blackmun. The plot--much of it inspired by Ellery Queen, G.K. Chesterton, and Sophocles--is eye-poppingly ingenious but uninspired and, except for the cave sequence, utterly without depth. Nevins, in his fifth novel, still writes like a law school prof on commission from the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.