Better cast your vote for Bellamy Park (Cal.) Town Council early--the field of candidates is narrowing fast. The first hopeful to drop out is Bellamy Park Bank President Gerald Senerac, a perennial cold fish (his one issue: the town's crying need for more shopping malls) who's become even colder and stiffer since he's been riding around in the trunk of his opponent Zack Hunter's new car. The police would like to pull Zack, a former TV star who played everybody's favorite small-town cop, out of the race and into prison; but the next candidate to retire from competition is Opal Quince, who wasn't even running in the same race. Charlie Plato, Zack's campaign manager and partner in a country-western tavern, figures his name recognition will make him a shoo-in if only she can keep him out of stir. But Zack's got even more motives than political rivalry with Senerac, as he reveals when he proffers his alibi: He was spending the night with the stiff's gorgeous wife. (Other victims of the irresistible Hunter charm include drugstore fan Adorin' Lauren Deakins, medical office manager Mary Grace Nolan, and--well, you get the idea.) Looks like Charlie will have to elude the second-best embraces of buffed, amorous gym-owner Marsh Pollock long enough to dig into Zack's past and come up with the hoary true motive, and a nicely hidden killer. Charlie's second (Dying to Sing, not reviewed) delivers the authentic, if minor, pleasures of the stand-by-your-man formula.