Gilpatrick follows her chilling debut (The Piano Man, 1991) with a more conventional police tale featuring warmhearted Katie MacLean, of Seattle's neighboring Eastside Police Force (EPF), who has just been named D.I.C. (detective in charge) of a homicide investigation. Gorgeous Catherine Fletcher, one of four partners in a small graphics studio, succumbed to morphine-laced tea. In quick order, two more partners die, as does the husband of the remaining firm member, Phyllis Walsh, who's now charged with four counts of Murder One. But Katie's gut feeling tells her Phyllis is innocent, and--despite her cop partner Sam, her chief, and her sexist co- workers--she stays with the case. Under scrutiny, Catherine's life disintegrates into a passel of lies, scam jobs, and vendettas--then tissue analysis reveals a virulent cancer. Did Catherine choose suicide, while someone else killed the others? Following a romance with a former suspect in the case, Katie zeroes in on the real killer--but nearly dies of morphine-poisoning herself before the close. Each time the story threatens to peter out, Gilpatrick tosses in another twist, but the final one strains credulity. Still, Katie's a keeper, and the writing's fluid and easygoing.