A smart, neglected Sussex housewife drifts into an affair that leads to murder: a characteristically malicious trifle from the dean of British suspense writers. Orphaned at an early age and then abused and turned out of her adopted home, married to a poppa's boy who's not interested in sex without force, given to writing love letters to herself, Judith Lassiter is plainly ripe for the plucking; and when her friend Debbie Hatter makes her a present of a refresher course in driving with ""dishy"" young instructor Billy Gay, it's only a matter of time--days, as it turns out--before she and troublingly uncouth Billy are enjoying rapturous afternoons in her bedroom and the seedy Marvin Hotel. The unlikeliness of Judith's romance guarantees disaster, but Symons (Death's Darkest Face, 1990, etc., etc.) piles on the warnings: discreetly flirtatious cop Jack Craxton's hints that Judith's architect husband Victor is involved in a business deal that the police are about to move in on; Judith's discovery of a secret about Victor so nasty that she'd like to kill him; and flashforwards to the discovery of the inevitable corpse. Symons's eye for trapped Judith's social milieu and forced march to disintegration is as remorseless as ever, but his plot--an ironic anecdote he's treated with greater success in one of his best-known short stories--is too slender even for such a brief novel. Minor work from a master, then--although worth reading for its sweet-and-sour mixture of revulsion and sympathy for its hapless heroine and her world.