Perpetually unemployed actress Alice Nestleton, back for a 14th outing (A Cat Under the Mistletoe, 1996, etc.), has taken a three-month off-season house-sitting job in Hollandia, a tiny town in the Hamptons. The solitude of her ocean-front mansion, though, drives lonely Alice to attend a poetry reading at the nearby home of Maria Norris. There, she meets, among others, cookbook author Jenny Rule and aspiring poet Bea Verdi. Alice leaves the gathering just in time to see Bea killed when her car explodes, and to suffer minor injuries herself. Truculent State Trooper Dayton Coop seems to suspect Alice, despite a plethora of eccentric characters in the neighborhood: incredibly handsome young Nick Frye, who carries a loaded gun and, in the wake of Bea's death, threatens to jump off the town's church tower; Harry Bulton, a bitter relic from the glory days of the area's commercial striped-bass fishing; burly painter-poet Karl Drabek, and other equally curious figures. Alice, soon recovered from her wounds, finds the body of Jenny Rule on the beach; has her house vandalized; spies a pregnant, belled cat among the dunes; and, after much nervy nosey-parkering makes the tenuous connection between past and present that ended in murder. An unlikely story not enhanced by Alice's boring cats or by her constant state of near hysteria. Only Adamson's quirky, quick-stepping style keeps this one readable to the end.