Murder is only the beginning of an endless chain of malfeasance in this bare-knuckled rondelet of Boston politics. It all begins when the cops fish Roxbury Yalie Purnell Whitmore out of a dumpster en route to Rev. Theophilus James's African Apostolic Temple of Glory. Police brutality! shrieks James when he hears that a white cop was seen entering the fatal alley with the scholar-athlete. Under pressure from the black community and the liberal Boston Hub, Hizzoner Conor O'Conor suspends Police Commissioner Francis X. Flanagan, architect of the ``Blue Tornado'' crackdown that's already divided the city, and appoints a blue-ribbon commission to look into Flanagan's reign. The hilariously ``balanced'' commission includes whiners and editorialists of every predictable sort, from Rev. James to the Mayor's blind niece, crack prosecutor Peggy Kiernan--and one wild card, snappy, well-connected private eye Nason Nichols (Trade Secrets, 1993). By the time he finds the hapless cop and turns him over to his avid colleagues--an arrest that leads at length to riots instead of a well-behaved denouement--Nase will be well on his way to getting the dirt on every shyster, developer, demagogue, and fellow blue-ribboner in town. He'll also have found out, incidentally, that Purnell Whitmore was not exactly the paragon he seemed. Scoundrels of every stripe are intent on turning every possible social interaction into a greedy sellout--yet Thomson's expert carpentry allows each delectable double-cross its full weight before proceeding to the next.