What could be a more peaceful contrast with newly unemployed crime reporter Tori Miracle's Hell's Kitchen apartment than her college roommate Alice-Ann MacKinstrie's hometown of Lickin Creek, Pa.? But when she accepts Alice-Ann's invitation to Lickin Creek during the week of its Rose Rent festival--commemorating the founding of the town by an ancestor of Alice-Ann's prissy, careerist realtor husband, Richard--Tori finds that the moral support she's been invited to give Alice-Ann when she throws Richard out won't be needed after all, because Richard's been murdered. Handsome Police Chief Garnet Gochenauer breaks through Tori's romantic reverie (``Guess I was just overwhelmed by meeting two good-looking, blue-eyed men in less than 24 hours! And one of them available!'') long enough to announce that Alice-Ann is his prime suspect--looks like she'll need that moral support after all. But Tori's convinced that the elderly Thorne sisters, of neighboring Thorne Castle, hold the real key to the mystery, and she's soon battened on her own suspect, glamorous medium Praxythea Evangelista, and motive: Richard's recent research on a machine to communicate with the dead that Thomas A. Edison had first unveiled on a 1920 visit to Lickin Creek. There'll be more murders, more secrets from Lickin Creek's improbably colorful past, and more wide-eyed romance before the unsurprising conclusion. Maybe newcomer Tori will fare better in a sequel on her less cutesy home turf.