Long before she perfected her craft with her Annie Darling and Henrie O. series, Hart’s learning curve included this simplistic early endeavor with a staunch but foolhardy heroine, a wisp of a romance, and perfunctory language skills. Ann Farrell takes up residence at Friars’ Academy in southern California to heal a grieving heart while she teaches journalism to wealthy students, one of whom, Oscar the pot-smoker, winds up murdered. In his pocket was a pad of paper matching the anonymous notes received by many faculty members, including Ann (who was accused of an affair with a married teacher). Prying into Oscar’s life, Ann discovers he was enraged by the supposed suicide of his best buddy Bitsy a few months before. Was Bitsy murdered too? Handsome Lt. Alonzo Fox uncovers a teacher moonlighting as a gay porn star, while Ann concentrates on the sexual dalliances of the Academy’s lothario Clay Frederick, whose wife June knows nothing of his extracurricular romances—or does she? Jason, a friend of Oscar’s, provides a drug-rich subplot, and eventually Ann finds herself in a motel room with a killer, but not to worry: She’ll be saved for a final clinch with the clean-cut Fox.
Snipes at gays and lesbians that would be odious if they weren’t so quaintly dated, and a cop who could use a remedial course in detection. Even devoted Hart fans will understand why this dinosaur remained in the closet for so long.