Someone at Professor Laura Murphy’s college appears to be playing a joke on her by planting sexually explicit stories in her research results, but the joke turns deadly when one story details the recent stabbing murder of a coed. Laura’s close friend, Detective Derrick Pasquis from the local police, asks for her help in interviewing the prickly suspects who resist intervention from outside the campus community. Eager to search out clues, Laura ignores warning signs that playing amateur sleuth may jeopardize her newly developing romance with Guy. And of course her usual intrusive manner puts her at odds with everyone on campus—colleagues, the college administration, the head of campus security and fraternity members. Is there no one Laura can’t offend in her eagerness to find the truth? The closer she gets to solving the crime, the more it appears that the past—the coed’s, that of a prominent faculty member and Laura’s own—is the key to the murder. Caught in an early winter blizzard, Laura must choose between wandering the mountains and freezing to death or taking her chances with a killer clever enough to make murder look like the work of an innocent student.
I felt more comfortable in the shadows, but uncertain where I might be stepping without my flashlight to guide me. My foot touched something soft. Yikes! Oh, it was only a pile of clothing, dirty probably. Oh, ugh. This is silly, getting worked up over a pile of clothes. Calm down. I was tempted to pick up the clothing and put it somewhere. I stopped myself. Now was not the time to be tidy and certainly not in a house I was burglarizing. I sidestepped the clothing, steadying myself with a hand on what I thought was a bureau. Funny, it felt like glass, not wood. I removed my mittens and slid my hand up the side of the smooth object until I felt wire mesh. Oh no, it can’t be. Probably just a terrarium with a few turtles in it or frogs. Frogs were okay. I needed to check to be certain. I turned on the flashlight. Yup. My worst nightmare. The beam reflected back the cold, unblinking reptilian eyes of a snake! Why did I have to look? I hate snakes, hate them, hate them, hate them. Why is this one smiling at me? In the light I could see feeding instructions printed in large letters on a card taped to the front of the glass cage: “Do not let Harry out. His next scheduled feeding isn’t until Sunday. He’s kind of grumpy.” Another card held the dates of previous feeds; the last one listed as three weeks ago.
I grabbed for the handle of the door behind me, and turned it. I slammed the door behind me, waving my flashlight frantically around the room. No more glass cages sprang into view. I leaned backward into the door and felt my heart thumping heavily in my chest. Why was it frat guys always preferred scales to fur in their choice of pets? I shone the flashlight at my feet and toward the bottom of the door to assure myself that snakey hadn’t followed me into the room. Don’t be silly, the top was on the cage. But how securely?