Like The Baby Blue Rip-Off (1982), this second outing for Mallory of Port City, Iowa--an ex-cop, Vietnam-vet, and would-be mystery writer--makes a neat, fast diversion out of an undistinguished plot, thanks mostly to Mallory's relaxed, no-fat narration. At the local bus station to meet a friend, Mallory defends a blonde stranger named Janet when she's accosted by a huge, fierce, one-eyed black man; Janet swears she doesn't know her attacker, tells Mallory her sad life story, leaves for her bus--and is found hours later dead, in a suspicious car accident. Is it just coincidence that bright young politico Richard Norman died recently in an almost duplicate crash? Apparently not--since Mallory learns that the black thug works for Norman's old, rich father: a notorious cancer-cure quack of bygone decades. And before the slightly talky windup, there'll be three more corpses, Norman family-secrets (illegitimate babes, suicide notes, wills), and a tad of interracial romance. No surprises, then--but steady action, swift dialogue, and basic, modest likability.