Dorset's Inspector Douglas Roper (Blood Kin, 1992, etc.) and George Maklins, his trusty sergeant, have a knobby problem to solve: Who set the trap, on a quiet country road, that decapitated Gerry Pope--an ex-cop and now private investigator whose singularly nasty, well-hidden scam while still on the force provides an ever- widening roster of suspects. Among them are starchy, hard-drinking stockbroker Martin Craven, married to beautiful Norwegian Dagmar; Pope's farmer neighbor Nick Chance; the ex-Mrs. Pope's current boyfriend, Stan Docker, and others. Roper and company dig patiently, often tediously, into backgrounds and alibis--getting nowhere until a seemingly unrelated act of violence reveals a motive surprising to everyone but the intuitive Roper. Well-knit plotting and lots of colorful minor characters temper the slow pace and frequent dull spots: a solid but stolid village procedural.