There has been a satiric wrinkle in most of Millar's work since the late Fifties, but here the comic energy just about swamps everything else--mystery included. The detective is again lawyer Tomas Aragon (Ask for Me Tomorrow), but mostly Tom just plays straight man for all the flaky folks who hang out at Southern California's posh Penguin Beach Club: impossibly precocious nine-year-old Freddy; the girlish, aging, semi-retarded daughters of a retired Admiral; a senile rumor-monger; and vain, fiftyish widow Miranda, who runs off with the Penguin's macho lifeguard, followed by Tom--who's working on her late husband's pathetic estate. Where's the murder, you ask? Not till the last 50 pages, when impoverished Miranda, deserted by her lifeguard, takes a job as governess to those two addled daughters-and becomes the prime suspect when their mother is burned to death in a suspicious fire. Some of the black comedy and rosy repartee is indeed hilarious, and Tom remains appealing (in a manner reminiscent of Millar's husband--Ross Macdonald); but most Millar fans will probably be disappointed to find this to be all laughs (some strained for) and no chills.