Who is killing off the most influential men in the little Connecticut town of Scarborough? That's the question for Jonathan Wilder, ornithologist and renowned bird artist, in this blandly agreeable, feebly plotted mystery debut by former Sesame Street writer Sipherd (The Courtship of Peggy McCoy, 1990). Jonathan, a rather juiceless hero, discovers the first body--that of smug, womanizing Rod Ramsey, the town's first selectman--strung up in a cornfield. Soon he's amateur-sleuthing obsessively, convinced that the murders (the next to die is restaurateur Bernie Benjamin) are linked to a nefarious scheme by the town leaders to sell off pristine local land to corporate developers. Eventually, of course, Jonathan himself becomes both a suspect and a target for sniping bad guys--while he also finds time to begin a low-key, somewhat precious romance with a newcomer to town, the lovely antique-store owner, Lorelei Merriwell. Bird-watchers may appreciate the bits of ornithological lore (crow feathers are a central clue), and Sipherd daubs in the local atmosphere fairly gracefully. But the mystery is a twistless yawn, and everything else--from the environmental themes to Jonathan's tragic past to the supporting cast of local types--seems mechanical and familiar.