The shocking discovery of a woman's body naked and headlessDalong the shores of the Silver River in Sierra County, Calif., sets off a series of interrelated events that will have readers guessing about the killer's identity until the final pages of this thriller. The small-town suspects are many, including the victim's husband, Professor Grant Parkington, who has a reputation for fooling around with his students; Bass Paxton, whoDalong with girlfriend Faye Everett (with whom Parkington once had an affair) found the body; and Merton LeRoy, a gay ex-convict who sells drugs and turns tricks inside a van parked down by the river. At the center of the investigation are Sheriff Rusty Hodges and his hotshot female deputy and daughter-in-law, Mary, nicknamed "Pac" because of her father's allegiance to football's Green Bay Packers. The murder occurs almost immediately, and Laymon (Bite, etc.) devotes the rest of his book to the search for the killer, rarely detouring from his primary aim except to throw in an occasional provocative story twist or a bit of gratuitous sex and gore. Outside of Hodges, few characters are worth rooting for, as all of them display despicable qualities. But such flaws make Laymon's one-track story more intriguing and more realistic. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.