Albuquerque p.i. Bubba Mabry has a number-one enemy. And a number-one competitor. And they’re both big-mouthed William J. Pool, who thinks a scruple is Russian folding money, and who has a long history of out-slicking Bubba. So Bubba’s leery when he’s asked by Pool to share an assignment. Seems that Texas multimillionaire Dick Johnson has misplaced his flaky son, who may or may not have been kidnaped. There’s a ransom note demanding $200,000, but Johnson’s suspicious. He views the chances as good that Richie, the flaky son, wrote the note himself. The job Pool wants to drop on Bubba is delivering the ransom, a gig Bubba doesn’t much care for, but a thousand bucks—the proffered fee—is enough to blunt his misgivings. He follows instructions, and the money’s picked up . . . by spurious victim Richie, who at once disappears again. Now his dad decides it’s a good idea to pit the detectives against each other, dangling the ransom money as incentive. Whoever finds Richie first gets to keep it. Dirty Pool and bumbling Bubba face off, but before the Richie-hunt is over, Pool tricks Bubba yet again, this time in a particularly painful way. To accomplish dastardly ends of his own, he hooks But up with Dub—Mabry, that is (the father Bubba hasn’t spoken to in 28 years). Throw in a couple of beatings, and a near auto-da-FÇ, and Bubba endures dark times before finally muddling through. So-so plotting, and a protagonist who’s not very smart, nor very brave, and who needs to be funnier to compensate.