A surprisingly sophisticated first novel set in the English seaside town where young marrieds Tim and Daisy Sherringham, both doctors, work at General Hospital for the National Health Service. Tim's older brother, meanwhile--Dr. Richard (married to Joanna, also a doctor and the daughter of rich, powerful Lord Holbourne)--runs the posh, private Holbourne and Sherringham Clinic. Relations between the brothers, sons of a famed California physician who committed suicide, are amicable, although Daisy resents Richard's expensive gifts to Tim and the frequent, lavish parties at his estate. It's after one of these, before dawn, that Tim gets a phone call--an emergency at the hospital, he tells Daisy--dresses, takes the Fiat, and disappears. Thus begins a bizarre series of events that tests to the max the skills and stamina of Sergeants Peter Collins and Trevor Joseph. As Daisy copes with terrifying nightmares and sympathetic friends, two headless corpses are found--one nameless, the other a nurse from General. Body parts begin to show up in strange places, and the investigation's focus turns to an abandoned pier and the rotting theater on it; a hostel for ragged drifters; the disused annex to Dr. Richard's clinic; and, through it all, the leitmotif of a clown in Pierrot costume. The answers, when they come, may strain credibility, but the author offers a tension-filled, sometimes harrowing, stylishly written, roller-coaster ride of a story.