The flash and funk of L.A. is vivid, and the cast of characters quirky and memorable, in black PI Aaron Gunner's fifth adventure (It's Not a Pretty Sight, 1996, etc.). Once again, women mean trouble for Gunner. First, Connie Everson, wife of city councilman Gil Everson, hires him to take pictures of her husband committing adultery. Then beautiful Yolanda McCreary asks him to find her missing brother, Elroy Covington, who told her of meeting Gunner in Washington, D.C., at the Million Man March. The two tasks and the two women compete for Gunner's attention as both cases become intensely personal and deadly. Following Covington's cold trail leads Gunner to an old enemy called Barber Jack (so named for his favorite weapon, a deadly eight-inch straight razor) and to a sinister group called ""The Defenders of the Bloodline,"" who want to rid the world of Uncle Toms. Getting the goods on Everson seems easier until an unusual prenuptial agreement forces Gunner to delve deeper into the councilman's family matters. Deaths accumulate and then coalesce into a pattern as Haywood continues to deepen this impressive series, melding issues and plots in entertaining mysteries. (Jan.) FYI: Haywood also writes the mystery series featuring Joe and Dottie Loudermilk, who live and travel in their Airstream trailer.