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Myron Willgrubs is a pedantic professor at the Plattefield campus of a large Midwest university.  When he discovers a body in Pilgrims Park, he calls 911, but for reasons of his own refuses to divulge his name and later denies making the call.  Before the police arrive to investigate, John Olivier, a macho formerly with the Green Berets and now heir apparent to the campus chancellery, also discovers the body, which he knows is that of Carl Madewell.  Olivier has been having a torrid affair with Carl Madewell’s wife Penelope.  In what he tells himself is the Hoffa solution, Olivier removes the body from the park and stashes it in the freezer in his basement for later interment.  When Penelope Madewell reports that her husband is missing, the police spring into action, thus bringing together a lovelorn detective, Patrick Delaney, and Professor Willgrubs’ niece, Emily Peterson, runner-up in the 1997 Alice in Dairyland beauty contest.

Several zany characters soon join the action, impeding both the police investigation and Detective Delaney’s quest for Ms. Peterson’s affections.  Old and senile, Hattie Ellie Guck was watching for blue herons in Pilgrims Park through binoculars when she saw a man dump a body in the trunk of his car (or was it the backseat? she later wonders) and speed away.  Although she doesn’t call the police, she does tell her crooked grandnephew, Elwood Smythe, what she saw.  A loose cannon, Smythe swings wildly from one target to another in schemes of blackmail.

Underhanded and incompetent, Philip Moran is Plattefield’s most senior detective and Delaney’s mentor.  He longs to organize a SWAT team to wage war on campus potheads.  He vows revenge when taken off the case by the Chief of Police.

Detective Delaney’s old flame, Gigi Lamour, off to Hollywood to become a star, makes a porno flick and gets mixed up with the mob.  She scurries back to Plattefield to marry Detective Delaney for both his money and his protection.

Having hated each other for years, Mabel Freitag and Sophie Gargano work in the outer office of the current chancellor.  Both are secretly plotting to ensure that John Olivier becomes the new chancellor, each supposing the other will get the boot when Olivier gets the appointment.  Both conceal evidence that Olivier has a motive for murder and is lying to the police.

The mystery is resolved when a psychopath, Sonny Zitsow, comes to Plattefield to kill Detective Delaney and is subdued by the most unlikely people in a most unlikely way.

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