Carol Irwin's afraid of Kevin Swallow. Even though she did her best to clear him of a double homicide, and he ended up walking on a technicality, he blames her for the time he spent in jail--as she tells her ex-fiancÇ Streeter, prince of Denver skip- tracers--and now that Swallow's out again he's going to kill her. And killing her isn't enough: Swallow's taunting her by sending her doggerel notes accompanied by a tarantula and a dead cat- -something to think about as she reads the newspaper stories about what's become of the other law-enforcement types Swallow holds responsible for his prison stint (victims who, even though Swallow's threats were practically front-page news, never seem to have watched their own backs). How can Streeter (The Low End of Nowhere, 1996) say no to an old flame, especially one who remained a pal even after he broke up their wedding plans by bedding her best friend? So he goes on the job against Swallow, grudgingly opens his home to Carol--and gradually begins to pick up false notes (her quirky behavior, an unsettling anecdote starring herself and a garbage disposal) that make him wonder if this case is really as simple as it seems. It isn't, not by a long shot, even though Stone's twists actually rob his fast, sleek tale of tension; the ingenious finale, featuring a kidnapping, three pairs of handcuffs, a hand grenade, and a thoroughly exasperated mime, could have used a jolt of adrenaline from the opening pages.