The author at her wordiest (Curtain Fall, etc.) as Detective Chief Superintendent Maurice Kendrick heads the investigation of a series of killings of young women in the town of Seaminster, where he lives, separated from wife and daughter. Four girls have died, and the case is complicated by the fifth victim--David Douglas, a young man in drag on his way home from a costume party given by his aunt and uncle, Fabia and George Douglas. David's older, art-dealer sister Eleanor is being tentatively wooed by Kendrick's close friend--widower Humphrey Barnes. When the killer is discovered totally by fortuitous accident, there's great relief--until it's proved he could not have killed the boy. Kendrick is unable to build a case against Bruce Holden, a party guest deceived by and then irate at David's all-too-convincing disguise. In the end, it's Humphrey's close scrutiny of Eleanor that leads to the killer--and a final outcome propelled largely by the privilege of class. All the characters, except for a few blue-collar louts, are frightfully sensitive and much given to self-analysis. The perfunctory plotting doesn't help. Dull, pretentious stuff.