Educated, urbane, and humane Sheriff Charles Matthews has barely settled into his new job in West Texas when he's faced with the murder of shiftless Billy Joe Williams--and later that same day with the burned body of pretty young Maria Martinez. A post-mortem soon reveals Maria's pregnancy; Matthews, with his two deputies, is convinced that Billy Joe had tries to blackmail Mafia's killer. So the investigation focuses on Maria's affairs (she was unusually discreet, it seems), while the sleuthing turns up some unrelated dirty doings among the town's better citizens. The Sheriff, however, doesn't catch up with the (obvious) culprit until several new killings have been attempted. A see-through plot, a clumsy style (with cliches in the ""nerveless fingers"" line)--but some readers may be sufficiently diverted by the lively new-Texas background (politics, farmers, Mexicans, good 'ol boys) and the likable lawmen.