Munitions king Peyton Piper is used to being in control. He won't let the agitators protesting his continued manufacture of the Terrible Tommy land mine ruin the party he's planned to lay the foundations for his senatorial bid--although his overeager security guard Barry Nevins is courting a lawsuit thanks to his treatment of the protestors, and Peyton's 18-year-old daughter Paula is sleeping with the enemy. Even when Markham Swan, the philandering historian Peyton has hired to document the vital contributions of the Pipers to the Murphysville, Connecticut, economy, is found shot with two antique miniÇ balls, the manufacturer doesn't turn a hair; he merely purrs that Swan's wife Loyce had had enough of his affairs and decided to end all their problems with two shots. But when a note Swan sent to Paula warning of a threat to her life sends State Senator Bea Wentworth and her children's-book author Lyon (A Child's Garden of Death, 1975, etc.) off to investigate the family graveyard, they find evidence of a plot beyond even Peyton's ability to control--a plot reaching back to the Civil War that's led to the ``accidental'' miniÇ-ball shootings of five generations of Pipers at exactly Paula's age. . . . Neatly plotted, with a particularly deft use of the Piper family curse and the most surprising visit to a family tomb in years.