Claire Malloy, widowed bookstore-owner and sometime sleuth (Strangled Prose), is pressed by teen-age daughter Caron into substitute-teaching at Farberville High School--where 40-year veteran teacher Emily Parchester has been suspended for embezzling student funds. Caron is sure that Mom can prove Miss P. innocent once on the scene. Claire has barely had time to meet her fellow teachers, however, when autocratic principal Herbert Weiss and slimy school-janitor Pitts die of cyanide poisoning. Worse yet, Miss Parchester has disappeared after leaving a suspect jar of peach compote in the teachers' lounge--which teems with gossip from a clutch of chronically disapproving older ladies (not to mention pompous Sherwood Timmins and handsome coach Jerry Finley). And soon there are revelations about a longstanding illicit affair, plus hints of blackmail--as Claire survives classes, the homecoming parade, football games, and dances, all the while keeping her bits of information from boyfriend Peter Rosen, the police lieutenant. The tone is blithe, the details of plot and motivation a little blurry--but this is harmless, amiable entertainment overall, with a few chuckles and a tidily sentimental windup.