There's a contract out on the life of Kinsey Millhone, Santa Teresa's tough-tender ex-cop private eye ("A "Is For Alibi, etc.). The alert comes from Nevada lawyer Lee Galishoff. Kinsey had helped him track down and eventually jail killer Tyrone Patty. Now the undercover grapevine has it that Patty's hired killer is targeting them, along with the D.A. and sentencing judge. All this comes just as Kinsey takes on a job for Irene Gersh, an uptight lady who wants her to find the mother she'd left behind three years before, then living in a desolate trailer park, once a Marine base, on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Kinsey finds the old lady--Agnes Grey--in a nursing home, half-deranged and rambling incomprehensibly about long-ago horrors. It's on a local road here that the first attack on Kinsey takes place, leaving her old Volkswagon totalled, her body bruised, and forcing her to call security expert Robert Dietz for help, as Galishoff had suggested. Then, back in Santa Teresa, Irene Gersh has her mother moved to a local nursing home--from which she promptly disappears--and Kinsey tries to go about her business under Deitz's guard, which soon becomes a more personal involvement. There's something dark and mysterious about Irene's family that poses a challenge to Kinsey. She painstakingly focuses in on it, eventually confronting two murderers in a slightly contrived meshing of plotlines. The story is complex; the body-count high; the sexual encounters feverish; and the villains chilling--in another can't-put-it-down outing for this talented author.