This occasionally well-crafted thriller shows its claws but is ultimately rendered toothless by hokey characters and disjointed plotlines. Were 40ish tough guy Roland Troy not so damn unassuming, he would appear preoccupied with being an enigma. During his life he has been scion to a huge fortune; college football hero; martial arts expert; crackerjack army jungle recon agent; homicide detective; cigar-chomping vegetarian; and, oh yes, loving father. But now his peaceful central Florida life has been disrupted by violence and turmoil. Former flame Clara Roseman has reentered Roland's world with a Cadillac full of trouble. Her son, Billy, an unlucky horse trainer, has been framed for the brutal murder of Nikki Waters, a smoky-voiced, sexually libertine deejay. It seems the apparently good-hearted Nikki was also quite naughty--she bedded down with a veritable cornucopia of no-gooders, including a smarmy presidential wannabe (who it happens is an old foe of Roland's) and a twisted newspaperwoman. She even killed horses in an insurance scam, just to make ends meet. Even with so many suspects, Nikki's peripatetic past conceals many of her misdeeds, which probably explains how Billy fell for her in the first place. Anyhow, Roland, as part of his promise to Clara, gets to sift through Billy's and Nikki's none-too-pleasant past lives in order to get to the bottom of this mess. Simply put, Billy is a patsy. He got played for a sucker in Nikki's equine insurance scheme, and in his scramble to make up for his losses, he got stuck in a blown drug deal in Mexico. But what Roland has to uncover is who set up Billy and why. Singerman (American Hero: The Red Adair Story, 1990) has devised many good characters. But hamstrung by Singerman's inability to knit his many--and sometimes excellent--elements into a solid story, readers may be nearly as confused as Roland.