Answering a hurried call to take over for the recently deceased, and dearly mourned, acting teacher Tessa Grant in a Corinth (N.Y.) College production of The Winter's Tale, Joceyln O'Roarke (Dead Pan, 1992, etc.) doesn't realize she'll soon be investigating Grant's death as well. Though an autopsy showed nothing suspicious except for traces of unmetabolized ethyl alcohol, O'Roarke's convinced her mentor was murdered. Aided and abetted by her foul-mouthed Corinth roommate, Frankie Mauro, and her once-and-future lover, NYPD Lt. Phillip Gerard, who's followed her forlornly upstate, she begins to scour Grant's maddeningly elliptical journal for clues. O'Roarke finds no lack of suspects: the men whose heads Grant turned (Mauro's husband, Mike, theater historian Hank Barnes); the ones she turned livid (malicious costume designer Lyle Davie); the undergraduate ducklings she was bent on turning into swans (Barnes's daughter Belinda, ambitious sexpot Anita Sanchez). Though most readers will tumble to the big secret long before the benighted O'Roarke does, Dentinger's richly imagined characters and dialogue--equally histrionic onstage and off--make this a feast for those who want heartier thespian fare than Simon Brett's one- liners.