Historic Washington, D.C., is the setting for veteran producer Michaels' (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters) latest romantic suspense, and a diverting little caper it is. This one, like the antique gowns its heroine collects, glitters with details--historical and macabre--and with an entertainingly eccentric cast of characters. Likable heroine Karen Nevitt has recently been served her walking papers by her oppressive hubby; she takes refuge at the Georgetown home of her gracious aunt Ruth and crazy anthropologist uncle Pat, housesitting for them while they're on a jaunt to Borneo, also starting up a vintage-clothing business to get her mind off matters marital. Exbeau, Mark Brinckley, now a junior congressman, turns up, along with his recently widowed sister, Cheryl (who provides the business know-how for Karen's new enterprise); and Karen is plagued, as well, by snotty girlhood friends, Shreve and Miriam, both Washington socialites who get their jollies by looking down their noses at Karen's financially and emotionally impoverished circumstances. Then several episodes of apparent house-haunting happen: A ghostly intruder riffles through the vintage goods accumulating at Karen's, and Rob, a clerk in the store, is murdered. What does someone (or something) want so badly from Karen's stash? And is Rob's murder connected to the pilfering? Turns out Karen's old friends are at the bottom of things, trying to suppress a deadly secret from the past. Not exactly a page-turner on the strength of its mystery, and the clues tend to volley off the pages, scattershot, but superior Michaels otherwise, and colorfully detailed.