An early episode in the life and times of the author's sensitive policeman John Coffin (Coffin Underground). It's now the Sixties, Coffin is unmarried, a sergeant, and has just bought a house in Mouncy Street--an unfancy area of South London presently abuzz with the disappearance of schoolboy Ephriam Humphreys. Ephraim's body and two others are found as workmen hired by Coffin start to make repairs to the house, unlived in for two years. Its last tenant was eccentric old Edward Mosse, and it seems to have been a center for some strange goings-on--as well as a hangout for alienated teen-agers like Steven, son of dress manufacturer Rose Hilaire. Belmodes, her factory, is near Mouncy St. Attached to it is the studio of flaky fashion-photographer Charley Moon, where Gabriel Glass, Rose's designer, is putting together a collection of her own, sub rosa. It's not Coffin's case, but, with his house involved and finding himself attracted to both Rose and Gabriel, he keeps close tabs on the police investigation and does his best to solve the puzzle on his own. The solution, when it comes, is nasty but hardly surprising. Butler's quirky, offbeat style and vivid way with places and people rescue a story that tends to lurch and ramble. Slightly lesser Butler, then, but fresh and atmospheric entertainment.