Detective Chief Superintendent Geoffrey Bailey and Crown Prosecutor Helen West, who debuted in last year's A Question of Guilt, are now living together in a rented house (each secretly detests it, as well as its poky little English village of Branston), slightly bored with their work but not each other, until a murder case intrudes. Antony Sumner, an English teacher and the boyfriend of Helen's only chum in Branston, is accused of murdering Yvonne Blundell, the mother of one of his pupils and his ex-lover. Did he do it? He admits meeting her, thunking her in anger, losing his walking stick at the site--but that's all. As Bailey sifts through the facts, Helen, swayed by friendship, defends Sumner and scours the countryside for an alternate solution. A chance encounter at the train station with Yvonne's fiercely hostile daughter Evie--as she's about to shove her compatriot William, the retarded son of the local publicans, onto the tracks--sets Helen wondering what the two have been up to. Sumner is finally released, but not before Helen and William are almost incinerated--or before Helen and Bailey's relationship is almost severed under the strain of conflicting loyalties. Like its predecessor, this is steeped in the troubled-child theme, which diminishes the mystery element but strengthens the emotional impact. Both complex and biting--for a discerning audience.