Jordan, editor of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (and the recent Hitchcock anthologies), makes an engaging debut here--with a fascinating puzzle and a polished touch. Dr. Will Gray, history prof in the tiny South Dakota university-town of Crosscreek, is appalled to find a body on a snowy country road one night--especially when the corpse turns out to be that of faculty colleague Tom Donahue, a New Yorker new to the school (but already slightly involved with Gray's ex-wife). The murder motive? Well, it seems that Donahue was involved in The Close Company of Perfect Strangers--a group determined to solve an old Cross-creek treasure-hunt mystery: local scholar/businessman Gabriel McCrocken died over 40 years ago, willing a small fortune to his children. . . but leaving an enigmatic letter to guide his heirs to an even bigger treasure! Had Donahue and the Close Company managed to translate the letter's clues? So it seems. And now amateur sleuth Prof. Gray must likewise decipher the letter to find the murderer--as the trail leads him to New York, to a tension-filled auction where the killer is unmasked. A challenging puzzle, involving both wit and scholarship--expertly surrounded by strong small-town atmosphere, with a side glance at some intriguing N.Y. loners.