Welcome to the National Association of Girls’ Schools conference in beautiful Maui, where the hatred of NAGS founder Martina Pullman, even among her own governing board, is so intense that it’s a wonder her corpse isn’t discovered until the end of Chapter One. Since assistant Rory Altschuler’s idea of grabbing the reins is to flee screaming from the scene and hide under her bed, it’s up to NAGS consultant Thea Kozak (An Educated Death, 1997, etc.), who has the strength of ten, to take charge. By the time Thea goes to bed that night, she’s already established motives for plenty of folks who weren’t even intent on ousting Martina from her board (from Martina’s would-be lover Lewis Broder to her ghostwriter Drusilla Aird to her lobbyist husband’s first wife Linda Janovich), given the speech she’d originally written for Martina, and corrected the dinner count for the hotel staff. She’s also enjoyed the first few rounds of perhaps overconvenient gossip from diverse mouths, including that of a beguiling little girl, and attempted to reassure Det. Andre Lemieux, her lover back in Boston, that she’s fine—leaving the next day free for more nasty secrets, more flying fur, and of course the obligatory attempt on Thea’s own life. (In five adventures so far, Thea’s absorbed more punishment than any half-dozen Dick Francis heroes.) Fans of Thea’s battle-hardened style know they can count on the knives coming out early and often. Only the identification of the muffled killer is a letdown.