Veteran Taylor (The Mortal Sickness, 1996, etc.) begins his ``Roth trilogy,'' suspense novels about the Appleyard and Byfield families, with the story of four-year-old Lucy Appleyard's kidnapping out from under the nose of her overburdened minder. Despite the stiff-upper-lip nostrums proffered by Chief Inspector Maxham, Lucy's parents are frantic. Her father Michael, a CID sergeant facing disciplinary charges for striking a suspect, has troubles of his own. And her mother Sally, incoming deacon at St. George's iffy congregation in Kensal Vale, is still smarting under years of opposition to her ordination, first from Michael's imperious godfather, David Byfield, and most recently from Audrey Oliphant, a crazy interloper who interrupted Sally's inaugural sermon with a stream of curses, only to return home and kill herself. The somber atmosphere, awash with intimations of the Four Last Things of Christian eschatology--death, judgment, heaven, and hell--isn't relieved by the revelation that the kidnappers are Eddie Grace, a fragile ex-teacher whose childhood was the stuff of nightmares, and Angel Wharton, the ethereal, hard-as-nails boarder who's kept Eddie effortlessly under her thumb throughout each of their three earlier experiments in child abduction. The constant use of flashbacks piles on the menace while oddly diminishing the immediate peril to Lucy. But it would be unwise to judge such an eschatological fantasy without seeing the design of the whole trilogy.