Compassionate young Brenda Sheldon's neighbor is newly widowed, childless Mabel Foster, in her 80s but doing okay until well-meaning efforts bring practical nurse Josephine Slaney to live with her. On the surface Slaney seems competent and caring, but Brenda and other neighbors begin to see an ominous plan taking shape as Mabel's condition worsens. Brenda's pal Mary Fernald convinces boyfriend Sergeant Dan Valentine of the Santa Monica police to look into Slaney's background. He and sidekick Dave MacDougal are shocked by what begins to surface--a wide-ranging string of elderly, friendless victims; carefully executed legal documents; modest legacies; and the strong possibility of a dozen or more hastened deaths along the way. The race is on to build a viable case against Slaney before Mabel Foster becomes one more statistic. Downbeat, rambling and repetitive, this recently discovered story will evoke only lukewarm echoes of the late author's crisp Luis Mendoza police procedurals.