Lakeville, the quiet New England village home of the author's gentle hero--ex-county attorney, semi-recluse George Crowder (Choice of Violence, etc,)--is in ferment. Venerable Town Hall has been firebombed, an unidentifiable corpse found in the ashes. Seth Harder's farm was simultaneously torched--Harder burned to death, The police have arrested his fired farm mechanic Fletcher Johnson, who wants to marry Harder's daughter Ruby, an unwed mother long subject to her father's cold domination. Ruby persuades George to defend Fletcher, whose incarceration hasn't stopped the mayhem. Celebrated TV newsman Dan Lewis, in town to cover the story, is found shot to death in an unused quarry, followed by yet another killing and the disappearance of George's beloved young nephew Joey Trimble. The reader, helped by an oversupply of unsubtle hints, is way ahead of Uncle George in figuring this one out, but the puzzle, the pacing and the downplaying of a previous aw-shucks style make this the best so far of the Uncle George series.