Police Detective Deb Raison of the Fort Worth, Texas, police (Too Sane a Murder, 1984, etc.) is dismayed to find a note from teen-age, six-foot adoptive son Hal casually telling her that he and friend Lori, daughter of another policewoman, have gone hitchhiking to Los Alamos during a week's school vacation. Forty-ish Deb is pregnant for the first time, the baby due soon; test-pilot husband Harry is hospitalized with a leg injury; and Hal, though sweet and smart, is a total minus on geography and other practical matters. So Deb flies to Albuquerque, rents a car, and is hot on the trail when a call from Harry reports that Hal is in jail--in the tiny town of Las Vegas, New Mexico--being held on suspicion of murder. Deb meets the town's Chief of Police Alberto Salazar and finds that the murder victim is a girl named April. Hal, camping in the town park, had wakened to find Lorie vanished and the bloody corpse of April, a casual road-acquaintance, in the sleeping bag next to him. Salazar enlists Deb's help, and police procedures take over as they try to identify and trace the boyfriend who was traveling with April. Eventually, they do, but too late to save another of his victims--and the search for Lorie becomes more frantic as her captor's psychotic persona is revealed. His dramatic arrival on the scene heralds a tense standoff, some nick-of-time heroism on Hal's part, and a delayed return home for Deb and new son. Well-sketched scenic background, colorful Indian lore, and a wry sense of humor enliven a rambling--but unpretentiously entertaining--story.