Here's a major headache for Sheriff Matt Gabriel of Great Lakes summer-vacation paradise Blackwater (The Body in Blackwater Bay, 1992, etc.): His old friend Tom Finnegan gets into a fatal car crash--his dying words hint darkly about ``Jacky Morgan''--just in time for Blackwater's annual Halloween Festival, aka the Howl, a Great Lakes Mardi Gras when anything goes among the normally sane citizenry, from decorating public statuary to ambushing strollers in the park. A tour among Blackwater's gossips reveals that Jacky Morgan was a sneaky scamp who was killed years and years ago when he went over Eagle Head ravine (elevation 175 ft.) in a barrel--as witnessed by half a dozen other boys who are now the town fathers. Tom, dying of cancer, was obviously going to blow the whistle on one of the bunch, but which one? Things don't get any easier for Matt or for fledgling lawyer Dominic Pritchard, when the Eagle Head contingent (including reclusive furniture-polish mogul Albert Budd) comes together for the first time in 30 years at the Howl--only to have their numbers reduced by one. Gosling's leisurely pace has all the time in the world for minor characters and digressive episodes, like the gem in which Matt's colleague Tilly Moss runs Albert down. But the tired plot and luxurious detail eventually wear you out, like a nursing-home visit to a loquacious uncle.