An unprepossessing debut for West Country widow Sheila Mallory, an authority on obscure Victorian novelists who responds to old friend Charles' call from America (he's off on business) by popping round his fiancâ€še Lee's house to see why she doesn't answer the phone. Lee, it seems, is missing; then Sheila discovers her body at Plover's Barrow, a distant house (and stables and acreage) that Lee was trying to sell The policeman boyfriend of one of Sheila's friend's daughters investigates, but it is the pesky widow who uncovers the murk in Lee's past--including a husband she never bothered divorcing; a long-term lover; and a rapacious lust for men's wallets. Meanwhile, Marjorie, the village drillmaster, is bossing everyone around and seems eager to learn all about Sheila's findings; Jamie, the ex-husband, and Andrew, his jittery son, seem inordinately glad that Lee is dead; and Lee and Philip Bradford, one of her lovers, did have a tricky real-estate development in the works. After several dog-walking constitutionals, alibi-breaking chats on the phone, small dinner parties, and intuitive leaps, Sheila accosts the killer, then thoughtfully leaves the way clear for the honorable way out--suicide. Bland, with miss-the-mark attempts at irony and an insipid heroine. Cozy readers will not be amused--or enlightened--here.