An eighth adventure for Sheila Malory, a widow living in the English seaside town of Taviscombe (Mrs. Malory: Death of a Dean, 1996, etc.). Dull, mean-spirited lawyer Graham Percy, an old if less than dearly loved friend, has arrived for his annual two- to three-day visit and, as always, has gone for an early-morning walk on the beach. This time, though, he doesn't return. He's found on the beach, stabbed to death, his wallet missing, and Sheila's friend, Chief Inspector Roger Eliot, is on the case. When the wallet is found washed up on the sands--its contents undisturbed--Sheila realizes that the murderer may well be someone she knows. Clive Merivale, Percy's only living relative, looms large as a suspect. Merivale aside, only a tiny group of his onetime public-school and Oxford classmates remained a part of loner Percy's life: teacher Paul Heywood, Brian Shelley, famed actor Alec Patmore, now confined to a wheelchair, and rich, successful composer Josh Brenden. Sheila, with her usual well- bred, persistent questioning and inside information from Inspector Eliot, soon discovers that all of them have impregnable alibis. Where to now? A letter from Josh uncovering an adolescent scandal; a carefully planned social visit; and Sheila's acutely perceptive abilities bring the sad affair to a close--at least to Sheila's satisfaction. Holt is in good form here--exploring a few complex characters, along with the usual assortment of village bores, and indulging a penchant for theater lore that will strike a chord in many. Unriveting but solidly readable.