Journalist Paisner (The Imperfect Mirror: Inside Stories of Television Newswomen) turns to fiction in this overwrought tale showing obituary writer Axel Pimletz briefly galvanized by the question of who killed two young Boston athletes. The first victim, Andy Vaughan, is a college diver who apparently jumps to his death after a one-night stand with aspiring Corey Zwerling (""I have this thing for athletes""). A few days later, Corey sleeps with high-school basketball star Chuck Kendricks, and before midnight he's dead too, poisoned in the Springfield diner where she left him. Feeling like the angel of death, Corey unburdens herself to Detective Charles Abigail, but while he's still running in circles, Pimletz is aroused from his usual limited interest in dead people--writing their orbits, returning his seed to the soil by masturbating in cemeteries--by Andy's mother Margo, who massages his feet, and Hank Willet, who served in Vietnam with Andy's and Chuck's fathers, and who has a child of his own, Sarah, whom Pimletz realizes is the killer's next target. Neither Pimletz's laborious heroics nor his games of footsie with Margo Vaughan nor even the Corey Zwerling connection comes to anything; instead, the obvious killer, feeling his work accomplished, gives himself up to Abigail, and Pimletz crawls back into his hole. The feverish texture of David Martin's Lie to Me (p. 525) without Martin's conviction--but still a nervously evocative portrait of a loser clutching at detective work as frantically as if it were a life-preserver.