As spring comes to the Hudson Valley town of Appledore, some of its citizens are feeling uneasy about the failure of elderly widower Jason Belding to return from his annual Florida migration--in particular, his feisty neighbor Harriet Lorimer, a widow, misses his companionship. Jason's son Billy and spendthrift wife Georgia are also eager for Dad to come home and sell the right-of-way across his land to sleazy developer Carl Van Houten--who's dickering as well for land owned by no-longer-rich bank president Henry Oostdyk and stately wife Judith, and for the shabby farm of Art Jessup and his mostly senile, Bible-spouting wife Til. When Jason's remains are found on his property, however, it's apparent that he was murdered just before his departure for Florida. Harriet is distraught but somewhat comforted by state investigator Hugh Morrison, who appreciates her home cooking and pithy insider-knowledge of the village. It takes some feeble red-herrings and two more deaths, though, before Harriet's intuition and Morrison's dogged police routines work together to produce dual killers. No dazzling surprises in this ragged puzzle, but the author's breezy, cynical style, usually devoted to the advertising world (A Candidate for Murder, etc.), warms to the small-town ambiance and to his characters, even those he skewers. They provide the essence of this genial diversion.