Denver p.i. Jake (more-bills-than-clients) Lomax (Death on the Rocks, Blood Stone) agrees to hunt for barber/bookie Joseph Bellano's teen-ager Stephanie, who threw a tantrum in dad's shop after she learned about his gambling, then skipped out. Before Jake can find Steph, however, Bellano is blown up in her car (thanks to a stolen Army mine); Father Carbone declines to repeat confessional secrets; self-proclaimed Rev. Lacey--of the Church of the Penitent commune--has Jake thrown off the premises; and Bellano's barbarpartner announces that three customers witnessed the daughter's theatrics, and she seemed terrified of one of them. But which one? The professional gambler; the TV-news special star; the married lech with an itch for teens; or Fat Paulie's small-time goon? Desperately seeking Stephanie, Jake heads for Big Pine Lake, where she spent a summer working for Doc Early (later killed), who may have performed an abortion for her, as well as blackmailed a patient for a sanitized case of fatal child-abuse. Finally, another bombing and Jake's abduction lead to a bloody conclusion in the Church of the Penitent's Chapel, followed by Jake's donating his fee to the Rev. as amends. A wishy-washy stow of doubtful plausibility, but the sturdy, non-idiosyncratic Lomax is an above-average hero worthy of attention (and better things).