Sarah Deane, a Teaching Fellow in the English Department, and Dr. Alex McKenzie, working in the local medical school and hospital, are new arrivals at Maine's Bowmouth College. They've scarcely unpacked when the strangled body of mousy superstudent Alice Marmott is found embedded in a prize-winning ice sculpture at the end of frenzied Ice Carnival Week. Sarah's natural nosiness is encouraged by tight-lipped Sergeant George Fitts, who found her helpful in a previous case (The Down East Murders, 1985); his taciturnity, in fact, leads her to wonder at the clout exerted by formidable department secretary Rosalind Parker, whose game is genteel blackmail and who winds up a second murder victim. It turns out that Professors Fletcher, Larkin, Merlin-Smith and others have closet skeletons, but it's the secret buried in Bowmouth's newly acquired Hutter College library that leads Sarah to the murderer. Leisurely to a fault, with dialogue that's chipper but goes on for too long, as does the novel itself--though fans of Maine in winter and lovers of English Lit might find this a plus.