Lewin has created two superior series-heroes based in Indianapolis--sensitive private-eye Albert Samson (The Silent Salesman, etc.) and hard-edged cop Leroy Powder (Hard Line, etc.). Instead of staying on familiar ground, however, he now offers a new, fresh quasi-sleuth: veteran social-worker Adele Buffington (Samson's sometime girlfriend), the star of this loosely plotted yet highly readable mystery-tangle. The troubles begin when a terrifying nighttime intruder forces Adele, director of one of the Hendrick's Agency's storefront branches, to let him copy an agency file. Adele can't figure out why--or even which file the enigmatic visitor copied. But just a day later a man named Brian Wampler is found murdered, a note pinned to his jacket reading ""Hands off, social workers!"" And Brian Wampler is in fact the name of a social worker who used to work for Adele--though it seems that the killer got the wrong B. Wampler (a beer distributor). What's going on? Revenge for a mishandled social-work case? Perhaps. Meanwhile, however, Adele becomes more interested in a separate matter: the odd disappearance of a poor, shaky young woman and her two children. An intriguing search ensues, leading to a truly bizarre household--and ghastly revelations--in a sprawling brick mansion. And the two plots do ultimately converge. . .with a grimly ironic final twist. Besides sidekick Samson, Adele has an amusingly demanding 21-year-old daughter, an obliquely persistent cop-suitor, a feuding staff, and some strange clients. So, though a bit short on conventional puzzle-pleasure, this is a ripely, breezily entertaining mix of offbeat suspense, appealing character-comedy, and vivid social-work close-ups.