A fair, mildly promising debut for Boston shamus Brian Desmond--who narrates in a relentlessly jokey manner, works hard at his tough-guy posture, and mocks the lack of ""realism"" in Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. Hired to handle the payoff when a rising Boston politico is blackmailed, Desmond all-too-predictably finds a dead body--but not the negatives of the pomo-pix of the politician's drugged co-ed daughter. So it's up to the shamus to track down the blackmailers, including the out-of-work actor who lured the daughter into those compromising positions in the first place. The rather leisurely search leads to Harvard Square and Back Bay, to another corpse, then to a shootout with renegade Mafiosi. Along the way there is support from a sexy new girlfriend. The mystery-solution involves two final twists--one nicely unexpected, the other a hoary clichÃ‰ (paging Brigid O'Shaughnessey). Desmond's simile-laden, sarcastic delivery is often a little mannered, only faintly and occasionally amusing. But the narration is painlessly breezy, the Boston locales are sturdily sketched--and, with Spenser in such erratic form these days, Desmond might become a welcome alternative if tighter, more original exploits await.