A feisty first novel in which accidental hero Jim Harrington moves to Sutherland, South Carolina (to forget his philandering wife), and barely sidesteps the clutches of a murderer and a fledgling campus sexpot. Jim's neighbors at Mrs. Carswell's boardinghouse include a liquored-up old red-neck, Cowpens Martin, and Cowpens' old buddy, ""Warren the Queer."" Just before Cowpens dies of a thrashing, he murmurs something about Warren's pink T-bird; and when Jim checks, he finds a humongous stone--possibly a diamond--that he promptly takes over to Professor Hill in the geology department to identify. Meanwhile, Sutherland College's president, Yates Sutherland, is being smarmy; Carlos Garcia is putting the moves on Jim's new interest, the fair Jody, while soft-pedaling the value of the gemstones in his jewelry store; a student in Jim's English class at the college is enticing him; and the rush to find Cowpens' stone, or another like it, leads all the principle players to a span 400 feet above the Green River, where two are upended, two make a pact, and the gem washes out in the tide. An uneasy compromise between a college satire and an ol' boy toughie, with the redneck eccentrics the more persuasive. Patchy but promising.