Ayelet Waldman, . . Berkley Prime Crime, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-425-19635-9

In Waldman's fifth well-plotted Mommy-Track mystery (after 2003's Death Gets a Time-Out ), PI and former public defender Juliet Applebaum, with another baby on the way, needs a new home almost as badly as she and her partner in her PI business, Al Hockey, need a new case. When in doubt, shop , so Juliet goes house hunting. One place she looks at really stands out—the one with the body in the bath. It seems a solution is at hand to both problems: if Juliet and Al can solve the murder, then Juliet and her family can buy the house. But who would kill a washed-up, bit-part actress? The deeper Juliet and Al dig, the more motives they find for the victim to have murdered someone herself. Juliet is a wonderful invention, warm, loving and sympathetic to those in need, but unintimidated by the L.A. entertainment industry she must enter to search for clues. An underlying theme concerns the extraordinary lengths to which people go to look beautiful, and the great weight put on physical appearance in determining success in Hollywood. The suspense builds slowly—it takes almost the full length of the book before a motive for the vicious killing becomes clear—but what a motive, what a resolution and how clever of Juliet to figure everything out. Agent, Mary Evans. (July 6)