Terrorists are at work in the author’s imaginary Second City of London (A Double Coffin, etc.), where Chief Commander John Coffin of the Second City police lives with actress wife Stella Pinero in a tower next to the theater she heads. The second of two bombings has damaged houses on Percy Street, and it’s in one of these that a man’s body is found, dressed as a woman, the fingers removed; next to it Stella’s Chanel bag containing a bizarre picture of her. Stella, meanwhile, has disappeared, following instructions from Pip Eton, a blackmailing old lover who is later found stabbed to death and propped up in an obscure corner of the theater. Stella has returned, refusing to say where she’s been or why. Not until a third victim—Stella’s dresser Maisie—is found dead, in her own house, does it all come together for Coffin as he confronts a surprising killer, with motives buried in the past. Intriguing plot, but often deliberately muddied. The narrative, lacking focus and crispness, is cluttered with obscure conversations, oblique inner thoughts, dull minor characters and too big a role for Augustus, the dog. Middle-range Butler.