From the admirably risk-taking but highly uneven Radley (This Way Out, 1989, etc.): a book that begins and ends as mystery yet consists mostly of a village girl's atmospheric but suspense-less memoir. In the dreary little Suffolk village of Byland, an elderly couple--Zygmunt and Gladys Krzecszczuk--has disappeared from their wretched, isolated hovel. Suicide? Murder? A trace of blood on the floor suggests foul play to Inspector Quantrill and Sgt. Lloyd. And they're suspicious about village postmistress Janet Thacker, who was the last to see Zygmunt alive--but has neglected to tell the cops that she grew up right next door to the Krzecszczuks. So Lloyd filches the manuscript of Janet's unpublished autobiography, which is then printed in full. Devotees of gritty coming-of-age fiction may find Janet's sad 1960's story--oppressive poverty, mismatched parents, nasty relatives, ugly family secrets, academic ambitions, first love (lesbian), and disillusionment in London--modestly absorbing. Mystery-lovers will be annoyed and exasperated, even if part (a small part) of Janet's memoir does eventually help the police figure out what happened to the Krzecszczuks. One of Radley's less successful experiments, though undeniably rich in grimly convincing details of depressed village life.