Responding to an emergency call for help from her best pal, fledgling Portland (Ore.) detective Athena Dawes drives 600 miles south--only to find friend Suzie Frazier comatose, nearly beaten to death in her California home. Was Suzie, an office worker at Wescott U., attacked because she Knew Too Much about dark doings in the psychology department? Is the assault on Suzie linked to the suspicious death (brake failure) of grad student Steve Linstrom? To find out, Athena, a colorless sleuth, goes undercover as a temp and immediately discovers that the psych department is mired in a war between two camps: the followers of aging, charismatic Hungarian parapsychologist Laszlo Honvagy vs. the younger, soulless behaviorists who will do anything (harassment, arson, assault) to drive Laszlo out. There is also a subplot involving plagiarism, a love triangle or two, and controversy about student experiments in the possibility of life after death. Ivy halls are often a choice setting for literate suspense, but this creakily plotted debut flunks out--with stilted dialogue, oversized cardboard characters (like Laszlo's helpmeet, a morose gypsy clairvoyant), and a completely unconvincing rendition of turmoil in academia.