Broadminster's Detective Chief Inspector David Webb (Death Speaks Softly, etc.), still estranged from girlfriend Hannah, is helping police in nearby Steeple Bayliss with their search for missing Arlette Picard, a flirtatious young Frenchwoman at the local university. Webb's young, upper-class detective constable, Simon Marchbanks, is one of many who has dated Arlette, but Webb himself accidentally discovers her body while on a sketching trip. Parents Cecile and Gaston Picard arrived some days before and were met by Webb and French-speaking professor Bernard Warwick, representing the university. Webb had been surprised by Warwick's abrupt departure after the meeting, but is now aware that the long arm of coincidence bad thrown the professor into an emotional tailspin. While forensic probes to find the cause of Arlette's death and Webb interviews the girl's acquaintances and conquests, other forces work to bring about a killing impossible to foresee. More psychological drama than procedural, this story lacks the tight pacing and cohesive plotting of the author's best work, but well-drawn characters, Webb's likable, fallible persona and some last-minute fireworks provide above-average entertainment.