SKIM by James G. Pattillo (Soho Press: $19.95; 272 pp.). What's a nice, high-principled lawyer like David Pike doing in Hollywood--and representing the producer of a porno flick at that? So when Pike is commissioned to look into the books of a project in the works, it's with the understanding that no feathers on the temperamental (and curvaceous) director will be ruffled. Naturally, in a business where skimming is an art form second only to face-lifting, the books reek to high heaven and Pike suddenly finds himself facing the sort of real-life perils that Hollywood films portray so well. This is a tongue-in-cheek story of death and duplicity, and the author, a Santa Barbara lawyer, has great fun with his well-crafted characters and their crackling dialogue.