San Francisco-based Sharon McCone, ever resourceful investigator for All Souls Legal Cooperative (Pennies on a Dead Woman's Eyes, etc.), finds her courage and ingenuity tested to the max as she faces a pair of major crises. All Souls, growing larger and more corporate, wants to promote Sharon to a more important but mostly administrative job. As she mulls over their proposal, a more acute problem arises--Hy Ripinsky, a ranch owner with a secret past and the new man in her life, has disappeared. Painstakingly, Sharon tracks him to San Diego, where she meets his ex-associate Gage Henshaw, head of RKI Security Consultants, and finds that Hy had consented to deliver the ransom--a two-million-dollar letter of credit--to the kidnappers of biotech biggie Timothy Mourning. Henshaw wants Sharon to find Hy, dead or alive, and seems to think that Hy has his own scenario for the ransom money. The challenges have just begun as Sharon tries to pick up the trail through a maze of US and Mexican connections. On both sides of the border, double- crosses, sleazy characters, and threats of discovery and death abound--to ultimate confusion. Despite its elaborate overplotting and often dull, repetitive inner musings, Muller's latest--largely salvaged by its tense and satisfying windup--is absorbing much of the way and vastly more entertaining than the author's recent outings.