Private-eye Sharon McCone--smartest, most likable of the author's several sleuths (Eye of the Storm, etc.)--is intrigued by her new case: tailing ranch-manager Frank Wilkonson as he covers San Francisco's flower mart and nursery every weekend, obviously looking for someone. Hired personally by shirtmaker Rudy Goldring, who's not being totally candid, Sharon does some detecting on her own. In the dusty town of Hollister, she finds Frank's boss Harlan Johnstone living--mostly in a drunken stupor--with veterinarian son Hal in the neglected ranch house that his young second wife, Irene, had run away from two years before. She also meets Wilkonson's overworked wife Jane, mother of six, who is hurt and bewildered by her husband's weekend disappearances. Meanwhile, Sharon never gets to make her first report to Goldring: he's found dead in his apartment by a woman who vanishes just as Sharon arrives to keep her appointment. The police are sure the killer is vagrant Bob Choteau, whom Goldring befriended--but Sharon presses on, soon identifying the woman as the missing Irene, widow with a baby daughter. Irene is living as nanny to the children of Vicky and Gerry Cushman, old acquaintances of Sharon's, whose marriage is falling apart. Other marriages here are rocky, too; but when Wilkonson becomes a second murder victim, all Sharon's energies go into putting together the pieces of this convoluted puzzle. Mostly engrossing, with a wide-ranging look at San Francisco's homeless as well as privileged, a twisty ending, and a more introspective, slightly subdued Sharon McCone.