Never let yourself get roped into dinner with a pushy British matron traveling through a quaint French village like Jurac; apart from being irritated by her importunate confidences over your cognac, you're likely to be seriously incommoded the next morning, when the police fasten on you as the leading suspect in her murder. Fortunately, Kevin Dean's boss, who takes a personal interest in the fate of his driver and his politely detained lorry, dispatches a brisk bilingual lawyer, Zoe Chavanac, to help; unfortunately, Zoe is the wife of the examining magistrate. When Julia Littleton's husband incontinently provides a sterling alibi for her death, Zoe turns to more recherchÇ possibilities--a long-ago hit-and-run, the flagrantly corrupt Jurac mayor, a mysterious English visitor, a telltale fingerprint--which still manage, individually and together, to seem reassuringly familiar. In fact, there's nothing remotely original here, from the Adam's Rib pastiche to the mechanics of the murder. But first- novelist Whelan presents it all with dry, sly charm.