The follow-up to Dance of the Mongoose (1995) finds the author's New Yorkbased playwright-detective Joe Wilder renewing an old friendship with Jenny Hughs from the Virgin Islands, where they both grew up. Jenny, now living in Manhattan, has called on Joe for help. It seems that her friend Emma Vale Smith, heiress to the Masterson Electronics fortune, is sure that someone is trying to kill her. Laura Masterson, Emma's mother, died 16 years ago in a murder-suicide--shot to death by boyfriend Michael Trent in a guest cottage on the Oyster Bay estate she shared with husband Walter Vale, a top Masterson executive. Emma is now married to unassuming broker Stanley Smith and expecting a baby; her younger sister Sarah is engaged to playboy Craig Davis. Relations are cool between the girls and their father and his second wife Ann. Meantime, Joe finds a possible motive for murder in the way the Masterson money is willed, but suspects are scarce. He hires Chap Lannigan, a security specialist from St. Thomas, to keep watch on Emma--a move soon to be amply justified--while he himself is busily exploring the past in an imaginative scenario that eventually leads him to the Oyster Bay guest house and a melodramatic, barely credible denouement. The author strives mightily to animate his upscale New York scene, and with some success; still, a florid plot repeatedly hinders his self-deprecating, determinedly cool detective. Spottily entertaining.