A third adventure for warmhearted Philadelphia high-school teacher Amanda Pepper (Caught Dead in Philadelphia, Philly Stakes) starts innocently when Amanda--rummaging through used books brought to school for a charity sale--finds one with margin notes that seem to be a cry for help from a battered wife. After a few false starts, Amanda tracks down the victim--Lydia Teller--just in time to find the body of Lydia's husband Wynn, shot to death on their kitchen floor. Partner with Clifford Schmidt in TLC, a chain of tutoring franchises, Wynn--under a glossy, well-PR'd surface--was a wife-beater, bigamist, and lousy businessman. Lydia is arrested for the killing, but, meanwhile, an attempt on Amanda's life; the appearance of Wynn's furious real wife and grown children; angry threats from teacher-franchisee Nell Quigley--convinced the firm had cheated him--and other incidents make it obvious that a murderer is still at large. Amanda nails him in an overextended confrontation that verges on silly. Our heroine can be funny; her oddball romance with policeman Mackenzie has its charm; there are intriguing minor characters, but a steady flow of self-deprecating asides nears the cutesy and slows the pace here. Overall, then: a lighthearted but sometimes heavyfooted entertainment.