Manhattan p.i. Blaine Stewart, following a two-and-a-half-year slide since her husband Jeff's murder, accommodates her law-partner/sister Eileen and heads for a Carolina coast vacation to get a grip on her life. But while in Dolphin Beach, she receives a frantic phone message from her college chum Amanda--who's murdered before she can return the call. A quick check reveals that Amanda's husband Boyd and their computer business, BAJ, were about to go under; also, the sheriff wants Blaine out of town fast; a cop with a clue for her is killed; and she's mugged, sniped at, threatened, and tortured--but pluckily holds on to two secret computer disks that Amanda had hidden for her. Furthermore, Dolphin Beach appears to be a major cocaine drop-site, and someone is leaning heavily on the insurance company to pay off five million on Amanda's life to Boyd. After a few arguments with her sister, Sheriff Price, and a handsome doctor, Blaine solves the murder but is so seriously wounded that she has a textbook-perfect near-death experience--from which husband Jeff sends her back (""You're not ready--it's not your time""). Irritating sibling squabbles, comic-book villains, and ineffective attempts at hard-boiled dialogue: clichÃ‰-riddled debut.