Between May and September of 1969, a strangler is loose upon the town of Okaloosa, Alabama; five women (mostly old) are found lifeless in their beds, murdered. Who is the strangler? Everyone is--or at least that's the metaphorical drift of this story-collection/novel by Jones (A Cry of Absence, Passage Through Gehenna); and, unfortunately, that hoary fictional theme is given no new life here, merely trotted out in a dullish way. The crime circles abstractly, finding many a would-be criminal. An old man suspects--and through constant surveillance thus protects and vouchsafes--a retarded neighbor. A new adulteress believes that the fiend must be her rough lover--thereby exposing them both. A local pastor accuses (and thereby destroys) his deaf-and-dumb black handyman. A rakish local doctor ruins his career by journeying too far from the bounds of conventionality. Meek men discover their urge to murder; people seem spiritually to bare their necks. But each chapter/story is set-up too neatly, too similarly; and each is dragged on long past its point of natural and optimum tension. The result, then, is that Jones manages to suggest a sort of barometric dark impulse traveling through time and place--but, with such predictable components, this mosaic-novel never truly settles and certainly never chills.