Melanie Travis loves her teaching job at Connecticut's elite Howard Academy, where plans are underway for a Spring Pageant to honor the school's fiftieth anniversary. Immersed in the preparations, Melanie is hurrying to retrieve a painting of one of the illustrious co-founders when she comes upon a disturbing scene: Eugene Krebbs, the Academy's elderly caretaker is arguing loudly with a girl half his size. Before Melanie can learn more than the girl's first name--Jane--she disappears.
It's clear that Jane isn't a student at Howard Academy, so what is she doing there? Melanie doesn't have a chance to answer that question before more problems arise. Two days later, Krebbs is discovered stabbed to death right on the school grounds. Now Melanie is embroiled in a full-fledged homicide investigation as she tries to find out who's added murder to the school's curriculum. And when Melanie's trail leads her dangerously closer to the truth, she must race against time to track down a cunning killer before she becomes the next victim to be hushed. . .forever.
Amateur sleuth and single mother Melanie Travis (Watchdog, etc.) and her show poodle, Faith, return in a mundane canine cozy centered around the prestigious Howard Academy in Greenwich, Conn., where Melanie is a full-time tutor. School caretaker Eugene Krebbs, an unsavory school fixture, is found dead in his tool shed, stabbed with a pitchfork. Now, along with juggling Faith's dog shows and dealing with the unexpected arrival in town of her fianc 's ex-wife, Melanie finds herself drawn into the investigation. As part of the school's pageant committee, she is charged with searching through the Howard family papers in the school basement, where she discovers a painting and a 60-year-old diary that may hold the clues to Krebbs's death. Berenson's tale, particularly the Howard family history, starts out with potential but degenerates into a muddle of predictable characters, such as hunky boyfriend Sam, adorable son Davey and a precocious waif called Jane who knows too much for her own good. A fiery close call for Melanie leads to a disappointingly tidy wrap-up in Aunt Peg's kitchen, as the police, having been beaten to the punch by Melanie, eat cookies.