A mildly enjoyable debut story introducing Charlotte Kent, aspiring writer, mostly of do-it-yourself manuals. She's decided to write a history of Pelican Rock, her California town, and its rather mysterious Dr. Stanley Hardwicke, only to find that pushy blonde divorcÃ‰e Rena Blount is at work on the same theme. It begins to look like a dangerous idea when Rena is found murdered in her beach house and Charlotte gets hostile vibes from still-living associates of the doctor--his daughter Agnes Dietrick and his one-time nurses, the Jackson sisters and Minnie Taylor. Meanwhile, Pelican Rock has no shortage of flakes--like Charlotte's neighbors Fred and Phyliss Dolan, 60's leftovers with a neglected son Joey, who disappeared at the time of Rena's murder; Elmer Wainwright, whose dead mother talks to him from her resting place in the local cemetery; Charlotte's sometime lover, bartender-painter Peter Ross, and nosy plumber Dawes Hobbs. There's a drug dealing undercurrent, it turns out, but the murder's roots are in the past as sensible Sheriff Harold Flanders finds out. The story is overstuffed with characters and untidy plot lines, and hampered by choppy pacing, but Charlotte and Pelican Rock exert charm enough to encourage a further visit.