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Marilyn StasioWhen this densely plotted whodunit opens in 1950, wartime jobs have dried up and times are tough for fishermen, farmers, miners and loggers who live in these parts. Being of hardy Scandinavian stock, people in the close-knit township of St. Adele still paint their houses in cheerful shades of yellow and blue and kick up their heels at the big social events. But when two teenage boys get into a brawl at the Deer Hunters' Dance-and when one of them is found murdered and hideously mutilated the next morning-the town constable a stolid fellow named John McIntire, wonders how well he really knows his neighbors. Germane or not, no political issue or social dynamic is overlooked in this story, from racial attitudes toward American Indians and the land grabbing schemes of visiting city slickers to the "competitive housekeeping" habits of the womenfolk and the current craze for uranium prospecting. But while the plethora of detail diffuses the action it also produces rich character studies of people you don't meet every day.