Given even John Grisham's jaundiced view of the legal profession, it's not so surprising that Luton p.i. Joe Sixsmith's attempt to boost the insurance payout for his wrecked car by consulting Pollinger, Potter, Naysmith, Montaigne, and Iles should be met first with physical resistance (overdefensive Iles), then with brusque dismissal (curt Potter). But Joe gets the last word when Peter Potter's found dead shortly after throwing Joe out, and Sandra Iles--the most likely suspect in Joe's view--removes herself from contention by getting her neck equally broken. When Felix Naysmith gets attacked while he's on the phone with Joe, however, the coppers think the little shamus's involvement is too suspicious to amount to mere carelessness. Meantime, Joe's pressured from another quarter as well: Somebody who's been gently encouraging local track phenomenon Zak Oto to throw her big race New Year's Day if she wants her family--and now, evidently, her private eye--to go on living. The two cases never exactly grow together, but they overlap in some highly entertaining ways (think illicit romance and clerical error), and the denouement proves that certain key suspects were a lot more clever than they seemed. Joe's third (Born Guilty, 1995, etc.) isn't as funny as his best, but the creator of the immortal Dalziel and Pascoe could plot rings around the competition with one hand while ticking off the dead lawyers with the other.