From her previous historical novels to a contemporary setting this accomplishes a bridge, for, on its three levels, it takes in two stories of today and a third of an earlier time. It's complicated and has the fascination of untangling past and present possibles and probables; it's annoying in its cliff-hanging and overlapping double narration; but it does tie in another era with something of a current counterpart. Paula Hendry has come to The Octagon House in Hebron, N. Y., as a child, has inherited it from Helen Sackett and retrieves some few papers while the new owners are moving in. Norman Shields, trying to overcome a writing block, is tantalized by the miniature theater that ruins the Victorian perfection of the house, is seduced by what little he can find out about Helen, and, through the dead woman, falls in love with Paula. Paula comes out of her daydreaming through Norman, through his wife's young architect who is restoring The Octagon and through Norman's determination to learn all of Helen's past history. Norman's meddlesome inquiries in and out of the town reveal much that has been lost and more that separates the gossip from the truth. And the total result is to return Paula to her husband, to return Helen to her still disputed death, to challenge Norman. Intriguing -- transitory.