Southern newspaperman Chaze wrote a quiet, strong novel about Mississippi's The Catherine Call some years back (Wettermark, 1969)--but this return to the Call newsroom is basically just a straightforward little murder-mystery, notwithstanding the angst and graphically active sex-life of hero Kiel St. James, managing editor and amateur sleuth. The murder victim: huge, handsome, universally loathed general-manager John Robinson. The suspects? Well, ""the newspaper seethed with legitimate motivation, all stemming from the single source of Robinson's consistent and dedicated assholery."" And the primary clue is a bloody hole in Robinson's hat: the blood's of a different type than the blood from the hole in Robinson's neck. (The murder weapon's a letter spike.) So Kiel, who's an old buddy of the cop on the case, wonders which of Robinson's bitter employees did the deed--while having impromptu sex with gorgeous newsgal Crystal (who needs to be spanked), pining for cerebral girlfriend Gretchen (she's in N.Y.), and also dallying with athletic Lilly Devlin, a brand-new widow. (Her pressroom-foreman husband, a chief suspect, has died in a possibly suicidal accident.) Gritty newsroom atmosphere, rudimentary plotting, and crisply ironic narration: an odd, uneven package--with intermittent, occasionally raunchy appeal.