Inspector Pel, Burgundy's answer to Maigret, returns in another downbeat crime-investigation among seedy, testy French provincials--this time starting off with the discovery of two apparently unconnected corpses. A somewhat overage student at the local university is found dead in his room: naked, tied up, his arms full of heroin-shooting scars. Almost simultaneously, a body is found in a car trunk, gangland-style--and is soon identified as that of a fifth-rate Parisian crook. So at first there are two separate sleuthings: Pel goes to Paris, interrogates the crook's non-grieving widow, finds some heroin, and links the dead man to other, bigger villains; meanwhile, Pel also (with his motley crew) quizzes the students, discovering that the campus drug problem has already spurred a professor into dangerous anti-drug-dealer activities. And, after another corpse or two, a bit of flirtation (Pel-ishly glum), and the incidental exposure of a prostitute ring, Pel links the murders, fingering the unlikely drug-operation mastermind. Less inventive than previous Pels, with a bit less humor too--but a solid addition to a quietly gritty, modestly effective series.