Spenser vs. drug-smugglers and corrupt cops in a small Massachusetts town: a fast, straightforward, unpretentious addition to one of mystery fiction's most uneven series. Central Argus reporter Eric Valdez went to Wheaton, Mass., to investigate rumors of massive cocaine-distribution there. . .and wound up murdered. So the Argus' publisher now sends Spenser to Wheaton--where the food is awful, the cops are hostile, and the townsfolk (one-third of them Colombian) are taciturn. Eventually, however, Spenser zeroes in on a local Colombian produce-tycoon, his sexy wife, and the town's non-Colombian police chief--who then becomes murder victim #2. And it soon turns out that the easy part is fingering the bad guys. The hard part is protecting the innocent from self-destruction (psychologist-girlfriend Susan zips in for a consultation) and staying alive (tough-guy Hawk offers help in that area). Parker hasn't come up with a strong or original plot since Promised Land over 10 years ago--and the storyline this time is paper-thin. But, unlike many recent Parker efforts, it's crisply paced, divertingly peopled, quietly amusing, and occasionally touching--with only a few eruptions of the maudlin staginess and preachy self-congratulation that have made the 1980's Spenser so trying.