Detective-Superintendent Lyle of Rogate-on-Sands (The Man Who Wasn't There, etc.), again to the rescue. He's been called in by police brass of the Calfordshire district to solve the three-month- old murder of Tabitha Wardle, promiscuous wife of a local constable. The original investigation was bungled from the start, then dealt a final blow when its guiding force--Chief Superintendent Hunt--suffered a near-fatal auto accident. Lyle moves in--to the Thatched Oak hotel, after which the reader gets an ongoing account of the menu, along with Lyle's pompous interviews with all those involved--from the two police officers who found the bloody corpse in rural Hangman's Lane to the staff at Thatched Oak, where Tabitha made frequent use of one of the rooms. Lyle gets his man, of course, but he grows ever more self- admiring and supercilious in a rambling story weighed down with fussy detail, inane dialogue, and pretentious style. An irritating low in this author's wildly uneven production.