The circus world becomes the focus of Fort Worth's police Detective Deb Ralston (Inherited Murder, 1994, etc.) when she and husband Harry witness the fatal plunge of trapeze artist Julia Sarana Gluck during a night out at a posh new restaurant-nightclub. Velvet-covered ropes, cut after their last inspection by Julia's partner-husband Arlo, mark it murder for sure. Deb--in the throes as usual of domestic clutter and chaos--tries to sort out family and business connections that might lead to a motive, with no success. Julia, it seems, was pregnant--not by sterile husband Arlo but, in an unemotional arrangement, by club owner Jan Pender, once a trapeze star himself. Pender also has another problem--a series of threatening, money-demanding letters, unreported to the police, have been draining the club's considerable profits. Within days, the show goes on again, with Julia's younger sister Luisa taking her place. Meanwhile, Deb's uneasiness grows, fed by information that Harry has gleaned (from his beloved computer) on the tangled, intertwined history of the Sarana and Gluck families. A police stakeout set for the letter-writer ends in debacle, and Deb, taking a solo, early-morning look at the crime scene, finds herself in a near-fatal confrontation with an off-the-wall killer. The mix is much as before in the 11th of this series--lots of homey touches and more than a bit of Deb's rashness and self-probing--but the easy style and unhackneyed background make it one of Martin's better efforts.