Still treading water among the chilly waves of the non-tenured in Enfield College, Prof. Karen Pelletier (Quieter Than Sleep, 1997) is delighted when the chance discovery of a century-old photo leads to a new friendship that bears directly on her professional passion, 19th-century American women writers. But when her new acquaintance, Dr. Edith Hart, great-granddaughter of sentimental novelist Serena Northbury, dies and leaves $10 million to Enfield on the condition that Karen be appointed Director of the new Northbury Center for the Study of American Women Writers, Karen feels more sorrowful--and wary--than enthusiastic. Her refractory student Thibault Brewster II is threatening to sue her for sexual discrimination; Tibby's father, chairman of Enfield's Board of Trustees, plans to contest his Aunt Edith's will in another suit; and Karen's own chairman's pique over her daring to waste an entire course on Emily Dickinson rises to toxic levels. Meanwhile, the manuscript of Northbury's unpublished novel Child of the North Star vanishes except for a few tantalizing pages, galvanizing hordes of celebrity-seeking academics intent on capitalizing on this publishing find, or doing their best to pretend it never existed. Dobson moves easily between impassioned evocations of forgotten women writers and catty contemporary shafts at familiar ivory-tower targets. You'll be happy to know that the killer is a thoroughly retrograde type, and that Karen is vindicated in every way imaginable.