A daringly placid novel about--here goes--a quiet, reflective serial killer. Leaving his first 13 victims behind in Oregon graves, Vann Siegert drives his pickup east, ending up in a small Massachusetts town where he rents a room with the Deans--postal worker Doug, his wife Jane, and their daughter Karen--takes a temporary job with the post office, drifts into an apathetic affair with his co-worker Ferrin, and resumes his affectless avocation, offering his bottle of Southern Comfort laced with poison to acquaintances, hitchhikers, stranded motorists, and the homeless. McCreary (Mount's Mistake, 1987) clearly knows that the success of Siegert's deadpan first-person narrative, with its ritual avoidance of suspense or even logical causality, depends on the storyteller's self-portrait, and though his principal revelatory devices--flashbacks showing Siegert's matter-of- fact abuse by his mother and his doubling with his dead brother Neil, moments of unfulfilled passion counterbalanced by understated homicides (Siegert is incapable of closeness to anyone but his victims and his dead), and, eventually, the arrest of Doug for Jane's murder after the police have picked up Siegert's own trail--press too schematically toward a rationale of Siegert's divided nature, the narrator-killer successfully resists his author's attempts to explain him away. Disturbingly effective in evoking the hypernormal killer. But don't expect the usual pleasures of the genre.