Homey murder-and-mayhem in the tiny 1950s town of Fox Creek, Kansas--as narrated by relentlessly garrulous Marvin Hollowell, 13, who yearns to be Somewhere Else. Life around Fox Creek, you see, doesn't stir much as Mary makes his rounds, collecting ads for Dad's paper, the Argus, where the editorials never cut much deeper than the posy meditations of prom queens. And life at home is worrisome and sad--with older sister Bea planning to leave as soon as she can marry bland jock Tommy, alcoholic Mother living in a world of her own (""Mom needs stuff like operas and symphonies and when's the last time you heard of the Fox Creek Symphony Orchestra?""), and Dad not seeming to care about Mother or Mary: ""No matter what I did, it wouldn't matter."" But when it's discovered that beautiful, reclusive Mrs. O'Connell--Marv's sometime pal--actually has a guest at her ever-empty Juniper Hotel, Mary throws some excitement into the town gossip pool by spreading the rumor that the guest (probably a ""spy"") arrived by plane. So, in no time a Red Menace vigilante group forms, while an oleaginous FBI man shows up at the Hollowells. And this is merely a prelude to the Big Show: the FBI man is shot at the Juniper; Mrs. O'Connell is tied and gagged; nasty Mrs. Shaughnessy is murdered in her once-grand mansion--an event monitored by confused Mary, who gets to the mason jars buried in the Shaughnessy yard before the murderer and pockets $62,000. Then, finally, after FBI man #2 arrives--he's an anti-McCarthy good guy--Marv spills all. But there'll be a third murder before poor pregnant Bea and Mrs. O'Connell, whose story will clear up a myriad of mysteries, run to greener pastures in San Francisco. . . and Dad and Marv really communicate at last. A peppy little tale with lots of twists and turns, though Marv--who alternates between precociousness and moralizing adulthood--talks entirely too much.