Clarke has had mixed results with her dabblings in a variety of suspense genres--village murder, domestic psycho-drama, literary/period mystery--but this attempt at modern gothic is easily her weakest outing yet. Long-ago tennis champion Helen Boyden receives an urgent summons from her old doubles partner Marianne Weiss--whose painter-husband Karl has died in a fall. So Helen leaves vicar-husband Arthur, daughter Glenna, and her busy life in England to visit Marianne in Freidendorf, Germany. And, indeed, Marianne's in a bad way: paranoid, moody, sometimes violent, with the telephone disconnected and every door and window locked. What's the trouble? Well, Marianne believes she killed husband Karl; and she's guilt-ridden over an affair with local professor Max Bruchman (who has an invalid wife). But there are skeletons in assorted closets too--with clues in Karl's paintings--and when Helen's husband Arthur arrives, soap-operatic secrets come to the surface. Syrupy pace, endless probing of boring psyches--and talk, talk, talk.