Cassandra Swann's bridge class at Bellington Prison has stirred up an unlovely stew. One of her pupils dolefully claims he was set up in a drug bust; another announces he'll come calling on her as soon as he finishes serving his time for a sex attack; a third inadvertently reveals that he knows who killed her father, Handsome Harry Swann, when she was still a child. Apart from her halting attempts to reopen the stabbing of her father, there's more bother for Cassie (Death Takes a Hand, 1994) on the home front: Stonemason Charlie Quartermain clings to her like a strangling plant; Giles Laughton proposes marriage to both her and her new neighbor; and she quarrels with the dishy policeman she's taken to bed. Policeman? Yes, on account of the murder she got involved in when she hired out as a partner to Royston Chilcott in a high- stakes bridge game (ú500 a point) at Lord Darcy Wickham's, and the partnership went down in a grand slam while Lady Portia Wickham was getting shot out in the driveway. The suspects include the grieving, even wealthier widower, the butler with whom the lady was intimate, and the chicken farmer incensed by Madam's desultory picketing, but the whole plot seems like something of an afterthought. A clever enough gambit filled out to novel length by spurious cultural references--Keats is romantically linked to Fanny Burney- -and too much background on the heroine.