A misstep for admirable New Orleans Homicide Detective Skip Langdon (New Orleans Beat, 1994, etc.). The case begins well, when restaurateur Arthur Hebert's wife, Sugar, leaves him and family at dinner to run an errand and returns to find Arthur shot to death and their guests--daughter Reed, Arthur's designated successor as CEO of Hebert's; Reed's ex-addict-husband, Dennis Foucher; and their baby daughter, Maggie--vanished. As Skip makes her rounds with a litany of questions, the story of the killing and the kidnapping tumbles out--courtesy largely of brother Grady Hebert's written reminiscences--and it's not pretty: The Heberts' other daughter, Evie, whom her parents had branded a black sheep years before, has come out of nowhere to reclaim the baby she insists is hers. As a counterpoint to the Heberts' house of blues, though, the author is perversely determined to take Skip on a comprehensive tour of the city's fleshpots and mob neighborhoods. The analogy between the Heberts and the family of New Orleans mobster Gus Lozano really packs a punch, but it intolerably bloats what's basically a simple story. Written as if Skip's seventh case had to top all others--but, still, sadly shapeless.