cover image Poisoned Pins

Poisoned Pins

Joan Hess. Dutton Books, $18 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93591-9

Hess delivers another lighthearted but tartly told mystery. Bookstore owner/sleuth Claire Malloy (last encountered in Death by the Light of the Moon ) finds herself embroiled in the affairs of Farber College's sorority, Kappa Theta Eta, whose house is next door to Malloy's. Suspecting prowlers after she hears a scream emanating from the shabby premises, Claire gains the qualified (and condescending) tolerance of the house's summer occupants: four students and the divorcee housemother. The reappearance of Claire's nemesis, Arnie Riggles, and further prowler sightings culminate in the hit-and-run death of one of the sisters. Suspicion falls on the sorority misfit, whose car was involved, but Claire follows other leads (and her own instincts), identifying a major college administrator as one of the KTE prowlers, which gives rise to further questions. Among other complications in Claire's life is the sorry state of her love affair with Farberville police lieutenant Peter Rosen, who wants her to stay out of sleuthing, and the newest get-rich-quick scheme of her teenage daughter Caron. (Apr . )