A quietly compelling story set in London's seedier neighborhoods--where lowrent apartments and bed-sitters house the frail, single women-pensioners who are the prey of 50-ish Grace Bradby and her working partner, Janice. The pair met while serving prison sentences for larceny and shoplifting. Grace had conceived her scheme in jail, and Janice, almost 30 but complaisant and childlike, does her bidding. Using the cover of Social Services to gain entry to homes of the women carefully chosen by Grace, they lace the victim's inevitable cup of tea with sleeping pills, wait for her to pass out, and then walk off with anything of value, soon sold to one of Grace's shady dealers. After a few modestly lucrative months, Grace now has her eye on bigger game--in the person of stodgy bachelor Conroy Robinson, who shares a flat with his ailing ex-actress mother; Janice has fallen madly in love with a taciturn young man met in a pub; and, unknown to them, one of the pair's aged victims has never wakened from her drugged sleep. In the author's typically sensitive style (The Least of These, etc.), there's no final resolution of these factors, but they come together in a way that's both absorbing and believable. Every character breathes life here; the plot never hits a false note; and the author's literate, unpretentious style is rich in beguiling turns of phrase. Diverting and delightful.