The corpse had neither head nor hands--an outcome not really surprising when an irresistible force (speeding train) meets a highly perishable object (the human form). But there are aspects of the encounter that puzzle Joe Gunther, the Brattleboro, Vermont chief of detectives in his tenth outing (The Disposable Man, 1998, etc.). To begin with, there's the obvious question--what led to it? A suicide? asks Joe's boss. Joe doubts it. You don't usually find suicides with their hands on the tracks. Then there's the contrast between dramatically dirty outer clothing and emphatically clean underpants. Joe's skepticism is warranted. And this murder has links to two others. Moreover, all three involve a certain politically powerful figure whose protestations, thinks Joe, fall in that bothersome ""too much"" category. Bothersome applies to Joe's home front as well. He's beginning to sense that Gall, the woman he lives with, might be planing to leave him. And though he loves her dearly, he isn't sure he'd be right to stop her. Occam's Razor is the philosophical tenet that points up the wisdom of keeping it simple, and Joe does try. The murders get solved, the home front gets resolved, but there's plenty of pain for plenty of people on plenty of levels along the way. Simple is hard. Gunther remains thoroughly likable, his Brattleboro interesting and fully realized. Now maybe he'll pick up his pace a bit, addressing the sag that always seems to beset his middles.