Kate Baeier used to run a London detective agency with strong- willed, dark-skinned Carmen. (Last reported case: Death Comes Staccato, 1988). She also used to live with a lover named Sam, son of a well-loathed rich man, but he was killed by a hit-and-run assassin. So, deserting her partner, her business, and her lifestyle, Kate has spent five years as a journalist, reporting from ``trouble spots.'' Just lately she's returned to London for a brief business visit, staying in a luxury residence to cat-sit for a graciously insistent expatriate friend. A street mugging, a chance encounter with a photographer colleague (he has a last snapshot of Sam), and a face-off with the aggrieved Carmen thrust Kate back into snoop stance, particularly as an unfinished case file seems to link up with Sam's death. Old friends, old enemies (Sam's father blocks her access to Sam's son), a pension scam, a cat-killing, and a lot of guilt complicate the plot as Kate's repressed memories emerge and the venting begins. Throughout, our protagonist struggles with the controlling behavior and hurt feelings of others, reporting the trouble spots of her own psyche with a wearing narcissism. Careless writing plus an unconvincingly weak heroine (she dislikes herself, she says) capsize a story that, given a more stylish treatment, could have passed as original.
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