Legendary Hollywood producer Thomas Ince's 1924 death aboard news magnate William Randolph Hearst's yacht Oneida has long been listed officially as accidental--a heart attack brought on by acute indigestion--but dark rumors have circulated for just as long. Now along comes Hearst's granddaughter, partnered by historical yachting fantasist Biddle (Beneath the Wind, 1993), to clear the air. Or rather to muddy it more than ever, since Prof. Catha Kinsolving Burke, visiting Hearst's palatial San Simeon to scatter her late mother's ashes, gets wind of a rumor that her grandmother shot Ince--and sets out to clear her of charges no historian's ever made, since Abigail Kinsolving, secretary to Hearst inamorata Marion Davies, is as fictional as Catha herself. And she's a whole lot more fictional than the other suspects- -Hearst, Davies, Charlie Chaplin, Lita Grey, Pola Negri, John Barrymore, Louella Parsons, and Elinor Glyn--aboard the Oneida. Though the cast is glittering, the plotting isn't; Catha has to spend well over half the novel figuring out why anybody would've suspected Abigail of murder before she can team up with an eligible L.A. lawyer to vindicate her. Still, there's a certain charm in watching Patricia Hearst's demure fictional counterpart working like a beaver to get the lowdown on a crime 70 years away from her own sweet self.