A first novel set in Raleigh, N.C., where Pulitzer Prizewinner Simon Shaw teaches history at small, prestigious Kenan College, built largely on the estate once owned by the Bloodsworth family--now reduced to a distant cousin and her son Bobby Hinton, a student at Kenan. Historic Bloodsworth House is a feature of the campus, and it's on the grounds surrounding it that archeologist David Morgan unearths the corpse of a young woman, shot in the back of the head and long buried. Simon, recently divorced, his talents underused in summer school classes, is determined to plumb the mystery. Identification is easy: Anne Bloodsworth, daughter of industrialist Charles, disappeared from Bloodsworth House, the family residence, in 1926, never to be heard from again despite her father's efforts to find her via both the police and the Pinkerton Detective Agency. There are a few people still living who remember Anne--one of them the Bloodsworth housekeeper Bessie Cofield. Simon talks to her and to others, struggling at the same time with the jealousy of fellow teacher Alex Andrus; with a new-born attraction to Julia McGloughlan, legal counsel to massive Sergeant Gates of the Raleigh police; and with a couple of clumsy attempts on his life, the last of which nearly succeeds. Bright, brisk dialogue; a perceptive take on academic rivalries; and a flawed but very appealing Simon Shaw help to offset the sometimes unfocused, often unconvincing two-sided plot. Still, an accomplished debut.