Genetically re-engineered corn may not sound sexy to you, but somebody in Kendra Crawford's Berkeley lab thinks it's worth sabotage, theft, and murder. When Crawford's right-hand man, Paul Raskin, calls in high-tech specialist Catherine Sayler (A Woman's Place, 1994, etc.), somebody's already swiped Julie Chun's irradiated seed corn, stolen Chuck Nishimura's epitubes, and damaged corn plants belonging to Chuck and Raisa Strom. Even worse, it looks as if whoever's undermining the lab is among the lab staff--maybe Dorian Baker, whose two ex-girlfriends both drifted toward Chuck; maybe Chuck, whose bank account has been swollen by an unexplained $20,000; maybe Paul, whose documentary history dead-ends after 15 years. By the time Catherine's investigation has gotten nosey enough to ask questions like these, two people are dead, even though Crawford, who's signing Catherine's checks, won't believe they've been re-engineered for death. Needing more firepower than her employer wants to give her, Catherine puts Kyle Jorland, her absent lover's biotech cowboy buddy, on the case, knowing full well (a lovely touch) that Kyle may be as much trouble as the killer. Catherine's fifth case is by far her best to date. Bolstered by the kind of hard research that makes Barbara D'Amato's mysteries memorable, it pulses with authority and a beautifully controlled sense of pace.