Poet Owen Davis-Williams is leading a series of writing seminars at a backwoods Minnesota resort, whiny, headache-prone wife Doris in tow. Owen's students are a mostly uninspired lot, with the exception of Anita Soderstrom, whose poetry and reserved good looks lead him to some unexpressed lustful yearning. Meanwhile, Anita shares her room with sex-obsessed Roz Haddad, over-made-up and underdressed, who's hoping to add the poet to her collection of literary bedmates but settles instead for fellow student Jack Saarinen, whose wife promptly leaves for home. This--along with her moves on married Steve McCready and Ceramics instructor Martin--makes Roz a likely murder victim, but it's Anita who's found stabbed to death on a lakeside bench. Though Sheriff Winton and the local cops try to trace the killer, they get nowhere, and at summer's end the Davis-Williamses return to their suburban Minneapolis house where Owen, haunted by Anita's death, has her poems printed and attempts a novel about the event, hoping the murderer's identity will surface. Which it does--a surprise to him if not to the reader. Owen is an ineffectual, self-absorbed, uncharismatic sort--no help to a slow-moving, unfocused, and faintly pretentious novel. Inferior to the best of the author's Joe Jamison series (Deadly Objections, etc.).