Of all the degenerates living in and around Aquatown, South Dakota, the worst may be Bernie Cook--a quintessential smalltime hustler. Bernie is the kind of guy who cheats on his wife, then asks her to flaunt her stuff to distract his friends during their weekly poker games (which Bernie invariably wins). After hours, Bernie gets his kicks by letting her tie him to the bed and whip him to near senselessness. It's not so strange, therefore, that when Bernie is murdered, no one much cares except his wife, who finds herself in jail, and her sister Rita, a dishy ""entertainer"" (read mistress), who comes to town to help save her sister's neck. Rita hires Carl Wilcox, the local hero of The Naked Liar, and like almost everyone else in this set-during-Prohibition novel, Carl is a bum. He isn't the greatest investigator, either. His sleuthing technique is limited, mostly, to talking to Bernie's poker buddies and messing around with Rita. The crime is solved, of course, though the real murderer gets off scot-flee while someone else willingly takes the rap. This is the fourth novel of a series (the previous Carl Wilcox novels were published as mass-market paperback originals). And it is essentially a dudes'n dolls mystery that harkens back to the 1930s genre, though here author Adams is adding nothing new, and the writing is often a bit forced (""I found Trixie stretched out on the cot, looking exhausted, as if her confessions had drained her like a session of diarrhea"").