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.