This amateurish effort by a pair of pseudonymous academics who enjoyed a modest cult success with Murder at the Margin (1978) will do little to dispel the notion of economics as a dismal science. The scanty, charmless plot centers on the apparent suicide of Dennis Gossen, a young instructor denied tenure by Harvard's heterogeneous promotion and tenure committee. Two members of that august if contentious body wind up dead as well, and Gossen's fiancâ€še, Melissa Shannon, is convicted of the murders. Economics Professor Henry Spearman, the eventual hero of the piece, has few recorded doubts that justice has been done. Near the close, however, he stumbles on documentary evidence (involving utility theory) that exculpates Ms. Shannon and exposes the three-time killer. Most of what little action there is occurs offstage, reducing the narrative to a plodding series of set pieces. Nor do the maladroit authors play particularly fair with either clues or suspects. Worse, Spearman & Co. emerge as pedantic clods whose ultracivil speech patterns make the arch prose of Amanda Cross and Emma Lathen seem very models of stylistic excellence. A dismal business indeed.