The arctic cold isn't the only threat to the storied Mummers who parade through Philadelphia on New Year's Day; produce driver James Patricciano collapses inside his feathered costume, two bullets in his chest, as his Fancy Club marches down Broad Street. Amanda Pepper, standing by with her six-year-old niece in preparation for an article she'd like to write on the Mummers, suddenly wishes she'd taken her roommate C.K. Mackenzie's advice and watched the parade on television--especially when Vincent Devaney, a second-tier Fancy who's also her fellow teacher at Philly Prep, talks himself out of arrest by claiming he was with Amanda. Mackenzie and his police colleagues want to talk to Amanda about Vincent; card-shop heiress Emily Semow, who insists the late Jimmy Pat had broken his engagement to upscale Dolores Grassi in order to marry her, wants to talk to Amanda; crime reporters smelling a connection to another Mummer's suspicious disappearance and hungry for the secrets she's been collecting for that unwritten article also want to talk to Amanda. But she'd rather talk about the plagiarizing student whose litigious parents are likely to cost her her job. And you can see why, since the plagiarism subplot, with its strong narrative line and real sense of danger, runs away with Roberts's spotty seventh (In the Dead of Summer, 1995, etc.). The suspects in Jimmy Pat's murder, well-drawn though they are, straggle as aimlessly as well-liquored Mummers on the way back to South Philly.