``I've never had a client who was a month away from being born,'' says Blaine Stewart after the death of her original client- -widowed acquaintance Judith Marsden, whose in-vitro egg is currently growing inside surrogate mother Hannah Wyrick, who has taken off for parts unknown--leaves her working for the unborn heir to the Marsden millions. That's not all that's weird about this case. Judith's ``borrowed uterus,'' Hannah, has done some borrowing of her own; she and her sister Nikki, Blaine's housecleaner, are former teen runaways who've been hiding for years under assumed identities. When Blaine tries to bully the smugly unhelpful staff at the Metropolitan Fertility Clinic into telling her where Hannah's gone and who she really is, the clinic pushes back, and Blaine loses first the bread-and-butter clients she shares with her lawyer sister Eileen, then her household possessions to serious vandalism, and finally her cleaning lady, dead in her basement. But Blaine's tough enough to keep coming back, even when a rogue cop leaves her cuffed to a freezing pier. The sparks that fly from these different subplots never really kindle a steady flame, but don't worry about Blaine. As a priest she hammers for info tells her: ``You are a hard woman, Miss Stewart.'' Lots of good ideas for a mystery, all juiced up by the surrogate mother topicality, and if you read the first half in a doctor's office you'd be impressed. But Zukowski (Dancing in the Dark, 1992, etc.) is too busy showing that Blaine can both take it and dish it out to bother pulling the thousand dire threads of this fantastical tale together.