Trott, who peopled earlier novels (Sightings, When Your Lover Leaves. . .) with emoting California eccentrics, has summoned up a new batch of touchie-feelie friends and lovers, and punctuated their adventures with essays on the meaning of life according to Mother Goose. Maximiliana Bartha, a.k.a. Max or Miliana, ""always believed her life would end in murder."" Divining her imminent demise, she launches her life's work: interpreting, with generous inspiration from her love life, the Mother Goose rhymes. So Miliana pens some drivel, while also hanging out with her bitter best friend Soo Yung and rollicking in bed with Tom the fireman and Joel the builder. And there's always a chance that her gangster husband Dominic will find her (she ran away from him several years back because ""we loved each other so much"") and exact his revenge. Then menace begins: She feels hostile eyes on her in the beauty parlor, discovers a crushed animal on her doorstep, and finds her hot tub cranked up to a dangerous temperature. She arrives home one day to her house on fire. All of this isn't Dominic's style: he's more the gunshot-to-the-heart type. So Max nurses third-degree burns (she'd plunged into the flames to rescue her fireman), fine-tunes her relationships, wins over some of The Enemy, and waits for her death. As silly as it sounds. Trott's overinflated people have a likable, living-hard-is-the-best-revenge bravura, but her prose wavers between cute glibness (""Mother Goose had become manifest to Miliana in her kitchen"") and stiff wordiness, and the disjointed actions--though entertaining--run out of gas. In all: flavor without follow-through.