County Kent's quiet, competent Luke Thanet (Close Her Eyes, etc.), of the town of Sturrenden's CID, and devoted sidekick Mike Lineham are trying to solve the murder of Steven Long, an abused child grown into an aggressive, hate-provoking adult. In Steven's grubby life were estranged wife Sharon, now living with roadworker Ivor Howells; an alcoholic, uncaring mother; a twin brother Geoff, farmed out to an aunt in infancy, now in prosperous circumstances; two other brothers with good reasons for disliking Steven; Harry Carpenter, whose wife and daughter were killed in an accident in which Steve drove the other car. With a lengthy list of suspects and witnesses to interview, Thanet pulls Lineham off another case, in which prostitute Marjorie Jackson died after being thrown from a car. The story plods carefully along its typical procedural path until the last third, when it picks up the pace and springs a few surprises--not the least of which is a connection between the two killings. Less than compelling, but competent, well-written, reasonably absorbing entertainment.