Pearson's latest comedy of bad manners (Gospel Hour, 1991, etc.) confirms his status as a master storyteller. It's a southern tale of ``bloodlust and high humor, romance and betrayal'' that everywhere attests to its creator's expansive and magnanimous vision. Something of a murder mystery, this raucously funny novel is more focused than the usual Pearson narrative. But even this intrigue allows for his characteristic digressions, his elegant variations, and his ability to transform the vulgar into the sublime. Told by a amiable young police officer, this ``tale of woe'' concerns the death of a fellow cop. And as its solution reveals itself, it also exposes ``a community of passionate people who sometimes slaughtered each other for love.'' At the center of this small town's murderous spree is a comely woman who uses men for sport. A married cop, a local lowlife, and a spoiled rich kid all come to ruin, thanks to this mysterious vixen, who favored her men with Polaroid souvenirs. Along the way to the bloody denouement, we learn about the various other passions that lurk within this small southern community: the wife who gutted her womanizing husband like a pig; the local drunk who fancies himself a defiler of royalty; the dumpy middle-aged adulterers who run off together; the eccentric brothers who fight over tastes in film romance; the two slutty sisters who service men orally while they're driving; and the suspected moonshiners who are actually secret homosexual lovers. It's a sorry world of flatulent dogs, lonely old women, and uncontrollable body functions. And Pearson loves it all--the lurid and salacious, the peculiar follies of basically good folk. The hilarious coda finds the entire story reenacted for ``reality tv,'' that curious ``place where life and tv meet.'' The genius is not in the tale, but in the telling--generous in spirit, deft in design.