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Bill James. Foul Play Press, $18.95 (188pp) ISBN 978-0-88150-231-2

A well-preserved, months-old corpse found in a community college classroom poses an irresistible mystery for Penelope Spring and Sir Tobias Glendower, recently made a Dame and a baronet for saving the British prime minister's life (in The Catacomb Conspiracy ). In Hyannisport, Mass., to visit their children and grandchildren (Toby's daughter is married to Penny's son), Penny and Sir Toby find their family time cut short by a bout of chicken pox. Looking for something to do, they agree to the urgings of none-too-bright Chief of Police Ernie Birnie, who wants them to find out why Clara Bacon, a teacher and community activist, was not reported missing in the several months after her death. Going their separate ways, Penny and Toby investigate which among Clara's causes may have led to her murder. Real-estate speculation, the raising of a sunken treasure ship and the claims of local Indians all provide tantalizing clues. Rejecting the chief's two prime suspects, the two sleuths propose a solution of their own and a hair-raising plan to prove it. Arnold's academic odd couple remain as literate and sophisticated as ever, although the small-town setting here doesn't show them off as well as did the metropolitan milieus of previous volumes. (Feb.)