Talented, uneven novelist Malone (The Delectable Mountains, Dingley Falls) now turns to the whodunit--with handsome, well-bred narrator/cop Justin Savile investigating a series of strange deaths in his sleepy hometown of Hillston, North Carolina. The first victim is the wife of Justin's Uncle Rowell: Cloris Dollard, a well-liked socialite found murdered st home, with burglary the apparent motive. But though stolen items are indeed traced to assorted low-lifes on the bad side of town, Justin has other suspicions--fueled by local psychic Joanna Cadmeon, a middle-aged beauty who suggests a connection to the drowning-death of Cloris' first husband. . . and then dies herself, in an apparent suicide-leap. So, defying family/society etiquette, Justin accuses his ailing uncle of killing Cloris' hubby #1 and Joanna, perhaps Cloris too. The actual solution, however, gets more complicated--with connections to the town's textile-mill tycoon. And Justin eventually sorts it all out, while also discardlng his married mistress (who turns out to be molto sleazy) and finding a sweetly quirky new love (a campus radical) instead. So-so sleuthing, and the blueblood-cop notion has been done better elsewhere--but much of this somewhat overextended mystery is classy, lightly amusing reading, with a varied supporting cast (Justin's police chum is a witty low-brow) and lively, tart small-town atmosphere.