The return of the phenomenally unappealing, recently demoted Inspector Rosher (The Shallow Grave, 1978)--in a non-detecting role: here he's just the victim of a prank (for ""the fun of it"") by a cocky criminal mastermind. The prank: when Rosher advertises for a housekeeper (his wife has left him), the mastermind arranges for the ad to be answered by Margaret Brian, who passes herself off as a battered wife with two small teenagers in tow; actually, Margaret is a brothel-keeper with a fierce grudge against Rosher, and the phony brother and sis are a hood and a prostitute. So, while surly, clumsy Rosher finds himself pathetically falling in love with Margaret, she and the kids are filling the house with stolen goods and setting Rosher up for cruel shocks and a host of criminal charges. That--except for the investigation of the mastermind's current robberies--is the whole story, a tiny notion that Ruth Rendell perhaps could have quietly built into real terror and pathos. Scott, however, just lays on heavy ironies and sprinkles lurid side effects--a tweedy lesbian politician with secret whips, a sex-toy store, flamingly effeminate homosexuals, the copulating teens, etc. Nasty and lively, less pretentious than The Shallow Grave--but ultimately thin, and sordid beyond the call of duty.