Bullying little tykes, the little tykes— victims, and whining parents pleading every excuse under the sun for some extra accommodation—all the everyday crises Maren Matthews is used to dealing with at the Hillside School get elbowed aside by the discovery of Caleb O’Boyle’s father Malcolm, bashed to death on the cornmeal table. As the surviving parents rush to remove their darlings from the horrid scene—except for video producer-director Celine Livermore, who withdraws her daughter Minka only to fob her off on another parent who then brings her back to school when Celine’s day-care arrangements break down—the Berkeley cops, led by Maren’s onetime boyfriend Jimmie Greenlee, focus their coercive attention on Hillside director Judy Thompson. But Maren’s not convinced, even when she finds out that Judy and Mal had quite recently been trysting on the cornmeal table, and that Judy’s softball bat was very likely the murder weapon. Seeking a break from her husband Aaron, “a mean, spiteful, self-centered asshole” sunk to the neck in his book on Edith Wharton, Maren tracks down Mal’s links to an adult- video outfit—just in time to learn that his two partners in porn have been killed as well. Fuchs’s debut novel is a low-rent Berkeley Compromising Positions that’s stronger on milieu—especially the heroine’s domestic life—than on plot.