Five exceptionally unexceptional beings -- Miss Berckman buffs ordinariness to a high, entertaining gloss -- are galvanized into unaccustomed action as they are all locked in the circular misery of an amateur blackmail scheme. Shy gentlewoman Dilys, recently widowed, finds her answer to financial security in discreet whoredom with a handful of aging clients to whom she offers immaculate bed linen, good dentistry and ""no possibility of scandal."" But when one of her clients dies, she realizes she's just not cut out for such a life. But she's not cut out for blackmail either, her next trembling step toward peace of mind. The victims: a shrewd but very vulnerable judge; the seedy heir of an immortal aunt who insists that their surname of ""ffolliot"" be perpetuated; and a timid soul who hates his wife, adores his threatened daughters. And with an eye to the banknote and an ear to the keyhole is the doughty char Mrs. Jackman who also has plans. Not unexpectedly Dilys is done in but no relief is in sight as the four survivors flounder and -- Wait, just you wait. . . .