It sounds like a simple job for Lydia Chin: deliver a $50,000 ransom for the stolen sketches of fledgling designer Genna Jing's initial collection. But when Lydia's only steps from the drop-off point, with her partner Bill Smith covering her back, somebody opens fire on her, and in the ensuing melee the envelope vanishes. Did the extortionist sabotage his own pickup, and why? Pressed to identify a likely perp, Genna can only think of runway show producer Wayne Lewis, but he's killed (same gun) before Lydia can get to her showdown with him, and Genna's left with no money, no clue, and no guarantee that the sketch thief won't renew his demands. It's only the latest bad break for Genna. Factory owner Roland Lum has pulled out of his deal to sew her line; the silver buttons she'd designed one of her premier dresses around have become unavailable; and Eleanor Talmadge Ryan, her boyfriend's imperious mother, has demanded she stop seeing John. So it's no wonder she fires Lydia, who's promptly hired by Roland to find a seamstress missing from his factory. Lydia, disguising herself as a novice model, a French advertising executive, and an American's idea of a stereotypical Chinese, eventually works out the links between Genna's problems, the missing Peng Hui Liang, and a local prostitution ring--but if this all sounds confusing, it is. Lydia's still an appealing heroine, but this vehicle is plotted within an inch of its life, without the controlling vision that made her first two novels (Concourse, 1995; China Trade, 1994) so provocative.