Returning to Glasgow from a self-imposed exile to avoid the political flap set off by events in Common Murder (1995), freelance journalist Lindsay Gordon discovers her world melodramatically upended. Her lover, Cordelia Brown, author of a bestselling book, has moved in with Claire Ogilvie, whose former lover, Jackie Mitchell, was recently sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Alison Maxwell. Alison had had no problem attracting sexual partners--Jackie most recently but also, once upon a time, Lindsay. Now Claire wants Lindsay to dig up fresh evidence for Jackie's appeal. Just when it looks as though McDermid will settle for stirring up the women's sturm und drang in a stew of obviousness (as when Lindsay, outside Alison's flat, recalls being ""desperate for the satisfaction she knew she'd find on the other side of that cherry-red door""), she tosses in a nice, lively burglary to get things moving: government and personal papers swiped from yet another of Lindsay's many friends are the stuff of headlines. Then Lindsay really gets into gear, mustering her considerable intelligence and emotional energy to analyze the puzzle. And when she tracks a thief, her trail takes a fortuitous turn that leads her to someone she never expected to be a murderer. (Apr.) FYI: This novel by the author of The Mermaids Singing and the Kate Brannigan mysteries was published in England under the title Final Edition.