Peter Shandy, botany professor at Balaclava Agricultural College and sometime sleuth (Something in the Water, 1994, etc.), lives, with librarian wife Helen, next door to dairy-management Professor Jim Feldster and Mirelle, his harridan of a wife. Taciturn to a fault, but a member of umpteen lodges, Jim disappears one night on the way to a lodge meeting. The Shandys' house guest, mystery writer Catriona McBogle, on her way home to Maine and exercising her penchant for getting lost, finds herself on a little-used, treacherous road and spies a car at the bottom of a ravine. It contains a trussed-up, dehydrated, near-dead Jim Feldster. Catriona had already unearthed Jim's carefully hidden kinship with the famous Feldstermeister clan of Dairies International, whose patriarch has just died, leaving Jim the head honcho. As Jim slowly recovers in the luxurious family manse, a neighbor back in Balaclava Junction has discovered Mirelle's blood- covered body seated in her pristine, white-carpeted living room. Peter's efforts to make some sense of it all aren't helped by village policeman Fred Ottermole, Mirelle's eccentric doctor Howland Melchett, or college president Svenson's hatred of publicity; events, however, quickly overtake all these wonderfully weird characters. Nit-pickers could wish for less of the Shandys' somewhat smug banter; less food and cat chat; fewer over-the-top characters; and a plotline less bizarre. But the story is incident-packed, often wryly funny, and intriguing most of the way. The author's legion of fans will undoubtedly love every minute.