Detective Chief Inspector Tom Maybridge (Death Drop, etc.) is shocked by the car-accident deaths of forensic pathologist Professor Peter Bradshaw and his wife Lisa. Bradshaw had been a neighbor and professional colleague, working with Maybridge most recently on the so-called Rapunzel murders, for which serial strangler Charles Hixon is serving a life sentence. Maybridge's wife Meg tries to comfort the Bradshaws' only child, 18-year-old Simon, living alone in the big family house until the arrival of Rhoda Osborne, who claims to be writing a piece on his mother, who had been an art historian. But Osborne is really looking for clues to her vanished sister Clare, latest of Peter Bradshaw's many mistresses. Simon's life had been traumatized by his coldly neurotic mother, an in-and-out patient at a nearby psychiatric nursing home. His reluctant involvement with Sally, a pretty, calculating worker there, adds another off-beat tragedy to the dark chronicle and inadvertently fulfills Osborne's mission. The sprawling plot, with some neat twists, is engrossing despite an overload of tormented psyches, twisted lives, and more than a touch of pretentiousness in the writing. Above-average fare- -but only middling Gill.