Seltzer-swilling, macho-posturing, California real-estate man Chase Randel (Deeds of Trust, 1991; Teardown, 1990), who brokered the deal when Joe Pacheco optioned his artichoke farm to well- heeled developer James O'Ryan, may not earn his commission if gorgeous, libidinous ecologist Lillian Landgaart discovers any endangered saltwater harvest mice on the property and if the environmentalists, led by county planner Irwin Gordon, stall their plans. O'Ryan is engaged to one of Pacheco's daughters, Gordon is romancing another. Steven Trask, married and financing the political campaign of anti-sale legislator Teresa Bledsole, is having a hot affair with a third. And Chase chases all--plus Lillian and an old girlfriend, Molly, a reporter. Lillian's murdered; several of the women are seriously abused; and there are two showdowns in the barn (knives, pitchforks, shotguns) before the bad get their comeuppance, the county and the Pachecos reach a negotiated settlement, and Chase and Molly give commitment one more try. A Fifties throwback (submissive women in sexual thrall to battering he-men) and likely to offend almost everyone nowadays. Chase gets more insensitive with each book.