Chief of Police Judd Springfield, just about the nicest policeman you're ever likely to meet, is confronted with a series of killings in the folksy little town of Coolidge Corners. The first victim is young accountant Diana Scott--whose jogging route took her past the houses of victims #2 and #3: Barbara Thibodeau, wife of unstable Paul; and hard-drinking, timid Linda Drazek. So the town, understandably, goes into shock while Judd talks to a lot of people who seem to be hiding something--from State Senator ""Big Bill"" Carson (Diana's employer) to landlady Emma Broadhurst, with slick nephew Frank. And, throughout, Judd is also wrestling with the problems of his teenage nephew Tim--not to mention his own options for the future. The fairly predictable killer is trapped by an old-fashioned ploy; Smith, it's true, leaves a lot of loose ends languishing in this mystery debut. Nonetheless: modest, quietly beguiling entertainment overall--thanks to the small-town atmosphere, the grace and simplicity of Smith's style. . . and the total likability of policeman Judd.