A remarkably gripping climax almost redeems the second appearance of Michelle ""Mitch"" Mitchell (Icewater Mansions), the scuba-diving northern Michigan tavern owner. Plucky Mitch, whose young son is off at boarding school, is lamenting the dry rot that's eating her bar when a cocky young man saunters in and asks for a drink. She persuades him that it's too early in the morning for whiskey, and that's the last anyone sees of Jimmy Calderon, whose rental car is soon found in the river. Jimmy was on the trail of his birth-father (whom he'd never known). The father belonged to a wealthy local family and is thought to have vanished and died after disgracing himself in Vietnam. Ray Calderon, Jimmy's older half-brother--same mom, different dad, he says--turns up next, eager to find the wayward Jimmy and, before long, eager to spend more time with Mitch. But Ray's got someone trailing him and a very convoluted story of his own about how he agreed to take a phony dishonorable discharge from the Navy for Jimmy's sake. Allyn's prose is fair, and the reader is seduced for a while by all the happy, decent folk who keep showing up. But all the sunny characters and cute local color eventually cry out for some kind of conflict. When it comes, about ten pages from the close, it's just too little, too late. (Apr.