This most ambitious of the series featuring one-armed p.i. Dan Fortune (Red Rosa, etc.) finds him newly settled, with girlfriend Kay Michaels, in Santa Barbara. Hired by friend Dianne Owen to help her ex-husband Frank locate his missing brother Billy, Dan finds a host of complexities behind Billy's disappearance, chief among them the seemingly accidental death of his mysterious pal Hector Jantarro. Both Billy and Hector worked for Canton Construction, whose owner Lee Canton, and intimidating right-hand man Ken McElder, seem indifferent to Billy's whereabouts, as does his beaten-down wife Nina. However, macho Billy's tall tales of life as a mercenary in Central America and his connection to Jantarro have drawn the interest of the FBI and CIA. They're involved, along with Dan and Frank Owen, as the trail to Billy ends in a seedy New York tenement--but that's only a stop on the way to a bloody climax back in California. Bloated with fancy flashbacks, attempts at in-depth character analyses, Central American politics, a smattering of righteous causes, the battle of sexes and more, only the author's skillful way with action and pacing keep this one readable and mildly engrossing. A simple story of greed and chicanery nearly overwhelmed by its pretensions.