Things just got really messy for North Carolina Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, whose terrified 8-year-old son, Cal, calls him in a panic after his mom (and Dwight's ex-wife) disappears into the chilly night air with nary a word. Then Cal himself goes MIA, sending Dwight on a harried hunt for answers. (His second wife, judge Deborah Knott, also elbows her way in to provide assistance.) It's not a bad setup, but the resulting 324 pages of Winter's Child are far from original. Margaret Maron writes in a crisp, undemanding style familiar to anybody who's plowed through a Mary Higgins Clark novel, her characters dim the suspense by speaking in helpful but rudimentary sprays of revealing dialogue, and mystery aficionados will figure out whodunit far sooner than they'd like.