1969. Someone is kidnapping, castrating and starving beautiful young men to death in suburban Connecticut. And wait, there’s more.
If Capt. Carmine Delmonico, of the Holloman Police Department, doesn’t catch this new killer soon, he threatens to eclipse the record set by whoever was behind the disappearance of the Shadow Women, half a dozen 30-ish ladies who vanished from Holloman at the circumspect rate of one a year between 1963 and 1968. Inspired by the studio photographs the Shadow Women left behind, Sgt. Delia Carstairs has been brooding over the case with nothing to show for her sleepless nights. But that all ends when Delia’s friend, clothing-store manager Ivy Ramsbottom, takes her to a salon at Busquash Manor, the palatial home that Ivy’s brother, designer Rha Tanais, nee Herbert Ramsbottom, shares with his partner, dancer Rufus Ingham, nee Antonio Carantonio IV. The stars are out at Busquash Manor, and Delia gets a snootful of actors, singers, producers and artists before she goes home. The real attraction, however, is the tangled back story of the Carantonio family, which features irregular liaisons, family feuds, disinheritances and yet more disappearances dating back to 1925. Meanwhile, back in the present, Delia and Ivy’s friend Dr. Jessica Wainfleet, director of the Holloway Institute for the Criminally Insane, preens herself on her success in curing her aide, Walter Jenkins, of his homicidal tendencies even as McCullough (Naked Cruelty, 2010, etc.) provides growing evidence that Walter’s cure may not be quite complete.
If you want to find out how the mind-boggling, murderous plots are connected to each other, you’ll just have to read the book, maybe two or three times to make sure.