Dame N. has always been more intrigued with atmosphere than deduction, so the horse-jumping death of the town slut (pregnant! by whom?) doesn't distract much from the fishy charms of a Franglais-speaking island in the English Channel. Vacationing Alleyn scion Ricky--struggling writer and first-class wimp--is the dominant 'tec here until a rather colorless Rory happens by, and Troy's role is, alas, barely a cameo. An Alleyn wash-out then, but the Marsh graces and humors don't recognize her age or ours (""What he said was short and unprintable""), and, for every too-familiar touch (drug-running, weird cults), there's one that's just familiar enough for comfort. Yes, that's the word. Comfort.