An ill-advised second outing for Claire Malloy, the with-it, sometimes witty widow of Hess's debut novel Strangled Prose. Claire is achingly arch in this contrived story as she attends, with teen-aged daughter Caron, a mock murder weekend at the Mimosa Inn, newly acquired by friend Eric Vanderhan and wife Mimi. Farberville's police detective Peter Rosen is there too, along with an assortment of locals including realtor Harmon Crundall, the pretend-victim who ends up murdered for real. In her self-appointed investigator's role, Claire picks her way through the debris of clues manufactured for the make-believe crime, the complications of an imminent undercover drug bust and her romantic feelings for Rosen to a Christie-like reenactment of the crucial time period and an anticlimactic naming of the killer. The author's hyper heroine is truly tiresome here. So is the frenetic, unbelievable plot. Heavy doses of an antidote to cuteness should be applied next time.