A past-haunted, Macdonald/Christie-ish case for Albert Samson of Indianapolis (Missing Woman), who's always good, wry company--though more somber than usual this time. Samson's client: Mrs. Paula Belter, a pleasant matron who has just discovered that her birth certificate's a fake, that her ""mother""--now senile, in a nursing home--isn't her real mother at all. Who, then, is Paula's mother, and why did she abandon her baby? Samson searches through old records, old brothels, old newspaper clippings--eventually identifying Paula's mother as a saloon-singer named Daisy Wines. And then, while somebody murders Paula's senile foster-mother (to prevent her from speaking?), Samson connects Daisy to a long-ago murder trial: she was acquitted of killing a rich husband. . . and then disappeared. Where is Daisy now? Has she been sending money to old friends-and-family all these years? And who's determined to keep Samson from finding out the truth--through various devious means? The answers involve some un-persuasive motives and a piece of not-very-plausible (if chilling) longterm impersonation. But Samson's steady, quiet, gently ironic narration brings it off smartly anyway--with an engaging array of starkly charming secret-keepers, seedy shadows from 1930s/'40s Indiana, and the sleuth's own low-key, likable integrity.