In a disappointing second in the Sam and Nicky Titus series (Death Down Home, 1990), Sandstrom turns Holton, Oklahoma, into a generic ain't-small-town-America-cute? locale. Now, Sam is sheriff, and his photographer wife Nicky is busy with the Maids and Matrons decorating a haunted house for Halloween fun--when a hitchhiker, Damon Revels, is killed in ""Dracula's"" room, with an orange pentagram lipsticked on his chest, a candle by his side, and a ritual knife clogging up his arteries. Whodunit? It turns out that alcoholic ex-junkie Revels had ties to Holton, but no one admits knowing him. Moreover, George Bullock over at the school is stirring up the crowds and the press with tales of satanic cults, and three students seem awfully guilty--but each of them about something different. Sheriff Sam finally sorts it all out, but not before Nicky is trapped in the house with the crazed killer--whose puerile motive is even less believable than Dracula's fake fangs. Sam and Nicky, the appealing outsiders of book one, have become entrenched, boring insiders. Their rebellious, contrary-to-small-town vision is sorely missed.