Carl Wilcox, now easing past the Thirties Depression by sign-painting in Hope, South Dakota, is second on the scene, after young Mac McGillacuddy, to peer into the sandpit at Felton Edwards's shattered body. Felton, the former tallest man living in the state, left Hope 15 years ago. What brought him back, and left him dead? Ex-cop Wilcox at the urging of the Mayor, agrees to investigate. HIS first stop is Felton's former employer, Big Dick McCoy, an insurance man, who admits nothing. But then his secretary mentions Felton's womanizing, and Wilcox is soon chasing down Felton's romances (plus starting one himself) and chatting up Pauline Clint--whose undertaker-husband, supposedly in Minneapolis at a convention, seems to have disappeared. Wilcox will have to discover where the missing person is before he can understand what happened to Felton, sort through the town's love triangles, and fill to overflowing the town's one-cell jail. Solid plotting and a pared-down style are the greatest assets here; it's also slightly less bleak than The Man Who Missed the Party (1989), though still awfully downbeat.