Sara Joslyn, the self-described girl reporter of Trust Me On This (1988), has left her job at landfill tabloid Weekly Galaxy for Trend, the Manhattan weekly ""For the Way We Live This Instant."" Now she's in country-music capital Branston, Mo. -- where hair is ""concrete-permed"" and if it ain't fried, it ain't food -- to cover the trial of country veteran Ray Jones for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Belle Hardwick. Only comic-mystery king Westlake could make this sordid case funny; he does so by using the mystery as a mere backdrop to a gorgeous daisy chain of chicanery. Sara's old colleagues at the Galaxy have infiltrated both the DA's office and the shadow jury Ray's high-powered defense team has assembled to test reactions to every courtroom development; Sara's editor and lover, Jack Ingersoll, slithers into town hell-bent to get evidence against those Galaxy frauds; an IRS agent nicknamed ""T P"" for reasons that can't be divulged in a G-rated review is out to squeeze every last drop out of Ray's past or future earnings; and Ray (who's arrested for a second murder on his way to a court appearance for the first) pauses just long enough to make T P an offer he can't refuse. A rollicking soft-news junket that ranks about average for Westlake's lighthearted mysteries, which is still better than anybody else currently working the field.