Stopping off with her sharp-tongued friend Clare Swann on her way to a University of Michigan class, Zoe Kaplan steps into a hornet's nest--the Swann relatives' sniping over the late Julia Swann Vanderlaan's personal property--that deepens into mystery with the news that (1) great-aunt Julia, who'd been unstintingly subsidizing Clare's education, has left an estate valued at a mere $23,462.17, and that (2) Clare's long-''dead'' father Gerald, who actually walked out on her and her high-strung mother Helena years and years ago, is waiting for Clare in her dorm room, this time dead beyond cavil. Unwilling to believe that provident aunt Julia would've left her high and dry, Clare entices Zoe into a hunt for the tantalizing ``Black Diamond'' mentioned in several 1895 fragments of letters between Clare's proper great-great-grandmother Henrietta Swann and a prostitute named Cora Brown. As they track Black Diamond to northern Michigan, Zoe's friends, computer consultant Anneke Haagen, and her fiancÇ, Ann Arbor Lt. Karl Genesko (Bleeding Maize and Blue, 1996, etc.), are on the trail of the murderer. Best not to ask too closely how these two trails will cross- -but just to enjoy the adroit intermingling of intrigue present and past as Holtzer bridges a hundred years to bring two generations of strong Swann women vividly to life.