Marchant/Cookson is a wizard promoter of domestic slug-fests in which boggling revelations are delivered in sudden bursts; here's another thicket of family mystery as observed by one of Marchant's dandy, iron-minded heroines. She's Pru Dudley, a Famous Writer, who takes a holiday to lovely Cumberland country along with kind Aunt Maggie. (Pru's been a bundle of nerves ever since exposing her husband as a bigamist.) But living in a lovely cottage on the Lowtherbeck estate also brings irritating, tantalizing puzzles: Why does the arrogant owner of Lowtherbeck, David McVeigh, so obviously hate his extraordinarily efficient housekeeper, Florence Cleverly? Why does Miss Cleverly so obviously dote on David's dim brother Rob? And what of Frannie, the neighboring child/woman, timid and so often marked with bruises, whom David seems to love as his own? Eventually, of course, Pru will learn that David--a wounded war vet valiantly trying to pull Lowtherbeck through hard times--is a kindred spirit, a fellow captive of fear. In fact, while Pru confronts her own terrors in a meeting with her former husband, David weathers through a symbolic thunderstorm. And the final McVeigh show-down is a beaut: Frannie's and Rob's parentage is a nifty surprise; there are home truths about dirty doings and poor Frannie; and Miss Cleverly zings a knife at David. All in all--weightless, but as much fun as a neighborhood Saturday-night fight.