Barrister-sleuth Anthony Maitland's 41 st case is the seemingly hopeless defense of actor Richard Willard--who's accused of hiring hit-man Edwin Porson to kill his long-estranged wife Laura on the eve of her marriage to cult-member Lionel Eardley; Laura and Lionel had threatened to limit Willard's access to his son Jamie. Is Willard being framed? So Maitland believes. But he can find nothing in the dull life of colorless Laura or in Willard's respectable acting career to support that theory. Finally, however, some bits of family gossip do produce a glimmer--one that develops not in the courtroom, disappointingly, but in a routine hostage/armed-killer confrontation. Competent, middle-level Woods.