Ex-cop Homer Kelly (The Memorial Hall Murder, 1978) returns, to considerably better effect, in an entertainment which is less a conventional murder-mystery than a suspenseful morality play (again with echoes of Langton's work in juveniles). Edward Heron, owner of a fine old house near Concord, Mass., seems to have died of an asthmatic attack. But, in fact, his death has been engineered by Buddy Whipple, an avaricious psycho who owns the neighboring property, has a grand land-grabbing design, and now (under the guise of good-neighborliness) moves into the Heron house--along with Edward's daughters Barbara and Virginia. Luckily, however, also in Concord for the summer (earning money for college) is young spider-expert John Hand (nephew of hero Homer), who adores Virginia. And, as villain Buddy moves stealthily ever closer to his goal (exerting a strange power over Virginia), John becomes his "natural enemy"--and makes a discovery that brings Uncle Homer to the rescue. With intriguing nature-study touches and a slew of nifty minor characters (the Heron sisters must protect their house from historical societies, garden clubbers, and real-estaters)--an odd but diverting tale, with special appeal to YA readers.