Early's second, after a more-than-promising debut (A Creative Kind of Killer), confirms the impression of a major new talent in the field. The locale is Seaville, a mostly blue-collar town on Long Island's North Fork. The body of Gloria Danowski, an A carved on her chest, has surfaced in Major Carl Gildersleeve's pool at his annual Memorial Day cocktail party. Three more victims follow, one a small child. And, though he's sturdy and capable, Police Chief Waldo Hallock is fired by the panicked town. Still, Hallock continues to work on the case--with an assist from newly arrived local reporter Colin Maguire, himself traumatized by personal tragedy. Soon Colin becomes hunted as well as hunter; the two gradually close in on the demented motive behind the killings. But they're not in time to rescue intended victim Annie Winters, a widowed minister (and Colin's new love), whose salvation lies elsewhere. Clever plotting, unflagging suspense, raunchily authentic dialogue, and a clutch of incisive character sketches: it all adds up to firmly compelling, fully satisfying suspense--if far less lighthearted than Early's Soho/satiric debut.