Ball seems to be doing his best recent work not with old standby Virgil Tibbs, but with sturdy little cases for weathered Jack Tallon, the city-bred small-town cop introduced in Police Chief (1977). This new investigation begins when councilman-builder Wilson Sullivan is found murdered with an ankh clutched in his hand--just one of the many signs pointing to the religious community of Dharmaville, which Sullivan had been vilifying for months. But Tallon's thorough, methodical sleuthing turns up some surprising facts about Sullivan: his mistress, his history of financial disaster, and his connection with rotten big-time developer Mortimer Brown--who's determined to get hold of the Dharmaville land. And, though the small police force is further challenged by the sporadic forays of a motorcycle-riding arsonist, the Chief's teaching and training pay off: his neophyte trainees manage to put both murderer and arsonist behind bars. Bland dialogue, routine action, and Tallon is a bit too good to be true--but, like Tallon's men, this police-procedural is earnest, honest, and hard-working.