In this mystery-debut Clinton Ball, a computer engineer, goes back to his hometown for his Aunt Phyllis' funeral--with mixed feelings about the aunt who raised him in a cold, forbidding house. Ball becomes even more confused when, after the service, he finds his aunt's confession (in a letter) of a 30-year-old murder. Then, summoned to the office of local VIP Peter Van Beldin, Ball is accused of slandering Mrs. Van Beldin. And things reach an outlandish climax when Ball discovers the body of a private-eye who's been following him. Grabbed by the police, then released, Ball doesn't sanely leave town, of course. Instead, he goes a-sleuthing--getting beat up at regular intervals and uncovering the Truth three bodies later: an over-complex web of secrets involving blackmail, coverup, Ball's sadistic father, a long-dead doctor, an alcoholic society woman, a shrewd real-estate developer, and a vengeful policeman. A ragged first novel--with heaps of repetitious padding, crudely delivered brawls and sex, and a messy (if promisingly imaginative) plot.