A none too bright reversal of In the Heat of the Night combined with a soupcon of Lizzie Borden. Black Bayou, Mississippi, is a 100% black town suffering from a distressing series of ax murders. Black police chief Lionel Jackson decides he needs help and writes to his childhood friend Brendan Cassidy, a 50-year-old diabetic N.Y. police lieutenant. Cassidy packs his .357 Magnum cannon, goes South, gets sworn in as a Black Bayou police officer, and begins investigating the whole town. Lionel's daughter-in-law, a widow, is very dark and gorgeous and falls for Cassidy (she brings him his breakfast and finds him stark naked shooting his insulin), love blooms. Meanwhile, more murders are committed by the psychopath--who wears a purple gown and bonnet while axing the citizenry. The ten or twelve citizens whom the author spotlights as suspects never quite hook the reader's interest, nor does much of the rest of the novel as Cassidy at last brings his cannon to bear on the purple gown approaching him and blows a huge hole in. . . . Something much sharper might have been done with this dullsville meller-drama.