Rachel Lee, . . Warner, $6.99 (355pp) ISBN 978-0-446-60962-3

Lee (A January Chill, etc.) is known for her romantic suspense novels, but this dry effort is short on romance and long on tedious technical detail. When a guard is killed and a Mexican dagger is stolen from a museum in Tampa, Fla., police detectives Clarence Tebbins and Gil Garcia team up to track down the culprit. The evidence implicates beautiful museum curator Anna Lundgren, but Gil and Tebbins soon realize that she may be a target, especially in light of her family's history with the dagger and its supposed curse. Whoever touches the jaguar-headed jade dagger is doomed, along with their descendents, to "die by fire in the jaws of the jaguar," and shortly after Anna's father discovered the dagger, an earthquake claimed his life. Instead of pinning down the killer's motive, however, Gil and Tebbins spend most of the novel trying to figure out how he bypassed the museum's high-tech security system. Anna's computer whiz twin sister finally determines how the system was circumvented, but the knowledge brings them only a small step closer to finding the killer. Although Gil and Anna are well-drawn characters, Lee (aka Sue Civil-Brown) puts little effort into developing their relationship. Readers will be disappointed by the novel's outrageous plot, lack of romantic tension and all too demented villain. (Oct.)