Nina Fischman's back from her abortive trek to L.A. with Jonathan Harris, sans man, sans job, sans pride (she has to move in with her mother, for crying out loud). But when her mild brother-in-law, Ken Rubin, is implicated in the poisoning of his real-estate partner, Andy Campbell, Nina (Alternate Sides, 1995, etc.) has herself another crime-solving gig, this time under cover of helping her successful ``friend'' Ellen Simon research a story for the New Yorker. Though there's nothing very mysterious about the case—Roz Brillstein, Andy's flashy widow, blames the animal-rights activists of SPASM (the Society for the Protection of All Small Mammals) who were protesting Andy's experiments with lab rats, though Andy's former partner, who became former after bedding down with Roz, looks equally suspicious—it does bring Nina together with dishy SPASM executive director Peter Slater (``even this guy's knuckles looked good''), give her a chance for a showdown with the killer and her no-nonsense mom, and leave her with her hair dyed and an unexpected new job. As usual, the lame mystery is an excuse for some laugh-out- loud chatter and Piesman's uniquely astringent insights into family relations (``In Jewish families, people generally avoided saying anything nice to each other. It was some sort of incest taboo'').
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