Briarcliff Manor is a large estate with its own mausoleum where Annabel Arbriar's mother lies interred after having been locked up the last year(s) of her life. Annabel is also a briar in her father's flesh -- particularly when she comes home to realize that he is about to wed a young woman who has quickly survived two earlier husbands and is a ""murderess."" On the other hand, to whom should she turn -- estate manager Darien Varka or her about-to-be-stepmother's cousin, either one of whom seem to be set on a course of demolition. . . . One of the worst to have befallen this insatiable genre written in a prose which never seems to make up its mind whether it is written in the present or past and a fashion which makes both unlikely.