This prequel to The Day the Music Died (1999) kicks off with Ford dealer Dick Keys’s unveiling of the ballyhooed 1957 Edsel, and his discovery of a woman’s corpse in the trunk of one of his futuristic new cars, as dead as the Edsel soon will be. Before her date with automotive history, Susan Squires had worked her way up from Keys’s receptionist to the county attorney’s wife, making enough enemies along the way—from Dr. Todd Jensen, the boyfriend she spurned for politically-minded David Squires, to Squires’s embittered ex Amy—that practically the entire population of Black River Falls, Iowa, might as well be sweating under Police Chief Cliff Sykes’s bright lights. But the trigger-happy chief has a more modest goal: to wring a confession out of Mike Chalmers, an ex-con Squires has an old grudge against. The harder Sykes and Squires push against Chalmers, the harder Sykes’s blue-blooded old enemy, Judge Esme Anne Whitney, and her investigator, Sam McCain, push back, until there’s a kidnaping and another murder, and McCain’s hopeless romantic tangle—counter girl Mary Travers loves him, but he loves Whitney’s secretary Pamela Forrest, who loves family man Stu Grant—looks welcome by comparison. Again, the joyously precise period detail is the main attraction in this shrewd, affectionate slice of Americana (though sharp-eyed readers may wonder if Ma Bell had area codes as early as 1957). The governor of Iowa should give veteran Gorman the key to the state.