Ready at 40 for a separation from her husband and from her advertising job in New York, Eve Elliott accepts an invitation offered by her recently widowed aunt, Lillian Weber, to help keep her struggling realty firm afloat during these tough times in the Chesapeake village of Pines on Magothy. Times are even tougher for old Ray Tilghman, who's found drowned in the cove that invading yuppies would love to buy. But Ray's death doesn't free his property, which can be sold only to a buyer willing to take care of his two dogs. At first Eve wonders whether Ray's death could be connected to the strangling of his tenant Will St. Claire's dog; but then she realizes that it's connected to a much older murder: the drowning of local actress Penny Hart, who'd gone to New York in 1968 to seek her fortune but ended up floating face down in the same cove. Was Penny killed by one of the young bucks who'd flickered around her in high school before growing into haunted middle age--and has the same person grown up to kill again? Despite some unseemly help from the long arm of fate, Lee's first novel--the latest winner in St. Martin's Malice Domestic contest- -features generally firm plotting and sensitive writing, an especially appealing heroine, and a strong supporting cast drawn from two species.