Fourth in a skillful series featuring Malminster's Chief Inspector John Morrissey and his able second-in-command Neil Barrett (Roots of Evil, etc.). This time out, the two are confronted with the vicious knifing slaughter of aged, emaciated Duffy--a homeless, harmless village fixture. Then, as they're barely into their investigation, more trouble looms with the disappearance of Liz Pardoe, a student at Malminster's Brindley College--her lover, Paul Hanson, frantically pestering police and college officials, even after a phone message with a voice sounding like Liz's is left on the college switchboard. Paul's direst fears come true, compounded by another campus fatality. There are more killings in the homeless population, and outside it, as the murderer seeks to erase his trail, before Morrissey, Barrett, and their overstretched team ferret out the psychopath, finally brought to bay--unlike the fox whose comings and goings run a leitmotif throughout the story. The author's work, at its finest here, combines sharp psychological insight, a lucid picture of the nuts and bolts of solid policing, sympathetic probing of intimate relationships, and, above all, the ability to build and sustain an atmosphere loaded with anxiety and suspense--all defined by a literate style that's never pretentious but, at times, approaches poetry. For police procedural fans, and others: an uncommonly rewarding experience.