After one so-so (Strangled Prose) and one no-no (Murder at the Murder at the Mimosa Inn), Hess hits her stride with a fast, funny story set in the Arkansas town of Maggody (pop. 852), featuring police chief Ariel (Arly) Hanks, refugee from a blasted N.Y. marriage, whose mom owns the Flamingo Motel and Ruby Bee's Bar and Grill, the town's social hub. It's at Ruby Bee's that Mayor Jim Bob Bochannon and three other town VIP's are holding not-unwilling Richard Drake, Environmental Protection Agency rep on his way to finalize contracts they fear will result in polluting Boone Creek on which they own land. Drake, locked into one of the motel rooms, is being entertained by blonde Jaylee Withers, whose brute of a husband Carl has just escaped from the State Prison Farm. But Jaylee's much celebrated departure for Little Rock and a beautican's career, financed by adulterous Jim Bob, is cut short by a crossbow arrow in the throat. Arly, not-too-fast deputy Paulie, and State Trooper Plover join in a hectic chase through the backwoods for the now-on-the-loose Drake and escapee Carl, busy terrorizing the natives. Some sharp detection by Arly pinpoints the killer in a neat solution that plays second fiddle to the vivid, raunchy inhabitants of Maggody.