A deep chasm seems to run through little Shady Hills, New Jersey. On one side live widowed literary agent Jane Stuart, her friends, her cat Winky, her son Nick, and Nick's nanny, Marlene Benson. The other side, which extends from the Roadside Tavern to the fleshpots of nearby Parsippany and far-off Manhattan, is peopled by strange denizens with names like Gil Dapero, who works in a sporting-goods warehouse, and Vernon List, who works in a hardware warehouse. One day, Marlene, instead of picking Nick up at school, crosses over to the other side of the chasm and disappears. Jane is worried and baffled; Marlene's mother back in Detroit is frantic; but Marlene's friends, from Helen Wichowski in Shady Hills to Zena Harmon in New York, seem strangely untroubled. Neglecting her unhappy clients and her up-and-coming assistant to make inquiries, Jane discovers that Marlene had been spending quite a bit of time on the other side of the chasmsome of it with such dangerous charmers as Gil and Vernonand that Jane's own side, the side of Jane's big client Roger Haines and her upscale neighbors Dr. Elliott and Audrey Fairchild, may not be so different after all. Everything is resolved in a finale equally surprising for its welcome ingenuity and its incongruous firepower. Marshall's refreshing debut has all the trappings of a cozy, right down to the detecting cat, but gets a PG-13 for sexual situations, language, pornography, and bimbos.