Robert Amiss, the youngish civil servant who starred in Edwards' engaging debut, Corridors of Death (1982), has now been transferred from the lofty bureaucracy of Whitehall to the comically dreary bureaucracy of the British Conservation Corp.'s purchasing department--overstaffed (with assorted misfits), underworked, drenched in pettiness. Furthermore, Robert himself (who'll be staying only a year) is resented by most of his colleagues and underlings, lifers one and all. And then there's an escalating wave of unpleasant practical jokes, culminating in callous mayhem: someone sends poisoned Valentine chocolates to all the bureaucrats' wives, causing the death of four people, including one child. Whodunit? Well, at first Robert is too emotionally wrecked to do much sleuthing--so his police-chum Jim Milton sizes up the suspects in the ""PD"": possible maniacs (a lesbian-radical fanatic, a prim bachelor); possible wife-killers (who might be using the old ABC Murders ploy). But eventually, goaded by tart girlfriend Rachel, Robert joins in the investigation--which leads to a near-fatal attack on Rachel. . .and the unmasking of the predictable yet implausible culprit. Notwithstanding the ultimately disappointing plot: a wry, smart, surprisingly warm-hearted diversion--with one choice vignette after another (even the subsidiary cops are amusingly sketched) and some of the best office-life comedy since Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise.