A suspense novel by the author of Image of Evil (1985) and Position of Ultimate Trust (1981), underdone on the suspense and overripe with puns. The puns' fearlessness, however, almost makes up for the lighthearted horsedroppings that pass for a plot. Some otherwise unrelated men in their early 60s begin being murdered in a similar way: two .22 caliber slugs behind the ear. The murders happen in different cities, so the police don't connect them. But Dan Forrest, a sleaze writer for a biweekly supermarket tabloid, starts weaving the murders together for a question-laden crime piece and begins to believe his own sleaze. His brother, a cop, doesn't believe anything, but feeds him ever-fresh info as the murders abound. The reader already knows that in a lonely mountain town south of Palermo, a dying mother swore her son, Vencenzo Arbalesta, to a mass vendetta: he must kill the six American airmen who raped her 40 years ago when she left Sicily to visit her brother's home in Italy. She had incensed the airmen, in a way, but the awful deed was performed in front of tiny Vencenzo, who has since found himself impotent in the sack. Perhaps if he fulfills his mother's curse on the airmen wearing the Brice's Crisis battle jackets, he will regain his virility. The six airmen parted forever after the war. Arbalesta has located them, and we follow him about the States as he kills them one by one. Meanwhile, Dan has assembled enough clues to lead him to the sixth and final victim, in Florida, where he arrives just in time to avert the last murder--perhaps. As some might expect, a passel of hungry alligators figures into the climax. Despite his sleazo job, Forrest is a nice guy, keeping off the booze and hoping to regenerate his life. And the satire on tabloids is fun but needs a deeper bite. The meager returns on the suspense, however, suggest that Beechcroft should try a new genre, perhaps straight satire.