Twelve-year-old Murray's madness is set off by a conversation he overhears when he calls home and, as his parents are away in Florida, asks his older sister Blanche, a film student, for a ride home in the rain. Readers won't be as convinced as Murray is that he has heard Blanche shoot their cleaning woman, Maria; still, the shot and shouting and Blanche's frantic cries about blood and such are hard to explain. You know that Murray can't really have glimpsed a severed head in a bucket of blood under the kitchen sink, and you won't be surprised to learn, at last, that the ""head"" (a wig), the ""blood,"" and the gun Murray sees Blanche passing to her college friend Harold are all props for a movie that Blanche and Harold are involved in. But what about the scar-faced man who watches the house and follows Blanche and Murray when they're out? And how come Maria hasn't shown up for any of her cleaning jobs since the shooting? A kind if unorthodox free-lance detective, whom Murray meets in a Dunkin' Donuts shop, helps him solve what mysteries remain: there has, coincidentally, been a crime, and Maria is one of the ring. If none of this is compelling or hilarious, it moves along breezily and clicks together as neatly as the frivolous business requires.