The author's newest foray into London's Victorian era with Inspector Pitt and gutsy wife Charlotte (Bluegate Fields, etc.) focuses on the raunchy, crime-and-poverty-ridden area known as Devil's Acre. Four men have been found stabbed to death and emasculated there. Three are members of so-called respectable society; the fourth is Max Burton, handsome brothel-keeper, once footman in the household of General and Lady Balantyne. In the end, the General's shallow, self-indulgent daughter Christina, married to sensitive, aloof Alan Ross, is the key to the puzzle and Charlotte, aided by her high-society sister Emily, pursues an acquaintance with the General. It enables her, by sheer luck, to discover the killer's identity a step ahead of her hard-working policeman husband. Detection takes second place to the picture of a ritualized, hypocritical society and a writing style that sometimes evokes the enthusiastic lecturer. Absorbing anyway, with a surprising and psychologically convincing denouement.