Laura Michaels--a graduate student at Oklahoma's School of Social Work and part-time group leader at the Timberdale Retirement Center--is upset when one of her favorite patients, Cora, dies suddenly during the night, a jar of Ben-Gay at her side. When two more old people die, and when it becomes clear that each of the three victims had only one thing in common--a pain-racked future from a fatal disease--Laura begins snooping. Meanwhile, she drops one boyfriend, acquires another--assistant deputy Lassister--and has her footsteps dogged by mystery-reading retiree Maude Thuringer, who's thrilled to bits to try her hand at solving a real-life crime. The avaricious Center manager will fall under suspicion, as will several residents and staff members, but Laura must suffer through a Center talent show/costume party and a villain-induced concussion before the poorly motivated perpetrator is brought to justice. Wooden and predictable. The pseudonymous Miles--``a best- selling thriller writer who always wanted to write cozies''--is working on a Laura/Maude sequel.