Aurora Teagarden (Roe for short), petite heroine of this amiable series (A Secret Rage, etc.) set in Atlanta exurb Lawrenceton, has left her library job after inheriting a house and other assets from her childless older friend, Jane Engle. Now testing the possibility of part-time work in her mother's real- estate agency, Roe's first assignment is to show the empty Anderton mansion to town newcomer, exec Martin Bartell. There, in the master bedroom, they discover the shackled body of promiscuous realtor Tonia Lee Greenhouse. They also discover a ferocious mutual attraction that proves distracting to Roe as she tries to figure out the who and why of Tonia Lee's murder. A second killing complicates matters, as does the ongoing series of thefts from unoccupied houses on the market. There's no shortage of suspects- -Tonia Lee's wronged husband for one; hardware-store owner Jimmy Hunter, whose hobby is looking at houses for sale, for another. But Roe spots a tell-tale clue and, in time-honored ninny style, puts herself at risk to prove her case. Despite too much girl chatter (clothes, hair, etc.), labored plotting, and some dangling loose ends, there's compensation in the nicely done Southern, small-town ambience, the torrid affair sensitively handled, and the breezy, unpretentious style.