Filled with misgivings about his daughter's upcoming wedding to a much wealthier (but less obviously committed) fiancÇ, Inspector Luke Thanet can only pray that Bridget's marriage doesn't turn out like Jessica Dander's. That longtime Kent Messenger reporter's unhappy union has come to a suitably abrupt end with her fall down the household staircase. Or was she helped into her final flight--by her dispirited, laid-off husband Desmond Manifest; by her brother-in-law Bernard Covin; by her lover, estate agent Adam Ogilvy; or by the unknown figure she felt convinced was stalking her? Despite the bottom of those stairs becoming the place for what turns out to be a surreptitious parade of interlopers as numerous as the crowd of innocents in any Agatha Christie library, reliable Thanet and his sidekick, Sgt. Mike Lineham, close this modest case by uncovering a 20-year-old secret. In his 14th (A Day for Dying, 1996, etc.), Thanet, as usual, deftly unpeels the layers of unhappy deception shrouding the victim, though the result this time is a surprisingly long-winded anticlimax.