Up till now James McClure (The Steam Pig, etc.) has had the South Africa detective turf pretty much to himself. But now Ebersohn, more introspective and psychology-oriented, joins him with a sturdy first novel and an engaging detective--Yudel Gordon, a Jewish psychologist working for the Department of Prisons in Pretoria. After visiting in jail an obviously mad black farmhand accused of poisoning his boss' son, Gordon and chum Freek Jordaan of the C.I.D. agree that the real murderer is still at large. So Gordon travels to the scene of the crime, and, in an atmosphere reminscent of a small Southern town in the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan, questions friends and family of victim and accused, becoming himself a target for violence but at last laying bare a (sensitively handled) cluster of guilt, rape, and tragic incest. Vivid minor characters--a hostile sheriff, a sympathetic lesbian, a weary black desk clerk--enliven Ebersohn's quietly literate approach, and Gordon is a welcome addition to the South African sleuth scene. An auspicious debut.