Above-average Curtiss--with deft interweaving of plot-threads in the small town of Pippin, where 60-ish Hattie Callahan has inherited the large estate of her cousin Charlotte. . . on the condition that she take good care of Charlotte's homely but beguiling dog Roger. Not surprisingly, then, since Charlotte's other, disinherited relatives are furious, someone seems to have unwholesome designs on the doggie. So: could the well-being of Roger have something to do with the seemingly motiveless killing of young Deborah Kingsley at Pippin's emergency animal clinic? That's a question for Pippin's Lieut. Hallam--and for animal-clinic employee Belinda Grace, who has her own troubles besides: she has come to Pippin in flight from a neighbor who slowly evolved from casual friend to possessive, malicious stalker. Thus, while Hallan pursues a false scent, Belinda (with a new beau) winds up as both sleuth and damsel-in-distress. Tidily plotted, well-paced, slightly marred by Curtiss' effortful prose: neat work from a sturdy veteran.