Wilson follows his startling debut in last year's Nightwatcher with another twisted tale of passion and murder in central Mississippi. Here, the rape/killing of teenager Julie Richardson ensnares first her next-door neighbor, Jack Mueller (a prime suspect even if he hadn't already, years ago, been accused of assaulting a teenager), and then, rapidly, Jack's wife Leigh Ann, her old flame Mark Ramsey, and Mark's half-brother, foursquare police chief Ray Hopkins. Mark's fight to clear Jack isn't helped by Jack's suicide--or by the story's detour into an investigation of some neighborhood boys who may have witnessed the murder, and who may be acting out grisly rituals of their own. Appealing characters, strong situations, and fast-moving prose. But the story is cluttered by subplots that make the final revelation both incredible and obvious.