Prickly, introspective Detective-Superintendent George Thorne, of the Thames Valley Serious Crime Squad, thought his 17-year marriage to Miranda was happy. Now, he's at a loss to explain her sudden, apparently voluntary, disappearance--and subsequent reports of her being seen with a tall, dark man. Thorne is positive he's not a deserted husband but must focus his attention on the misdeeds at Sir Leo Farling's manor, where Carter, the houseman, has been shot to death in the course of an armed robbery--the culmination of a series of nasty incidents. Suspicion falls at once on Bert Parker and Willie Burwash, small-time hoods who've just finished a stiff jail sentence handed down by Sir Leo, a district judge. They've been getting chummy with a much more intimidating neighborhood baddy--vicious enough to have shut the mouth of the only eyewitness to Carter's murder--writer Stephen Crispin, a houseguest of the Farlings' daughter at the time. It takes Thorne a while to get the message that revenge is where it's at, but the pace quickens when he does: a lean, lively, and engrossing story.