A powerful account of the flaying of a wealthy Virginia couple by their college-age daughter and her teen-age lover, the son of a German diplomat. Settled in with cocktails on a spring evening in 1985, retired steel executive Derek Haysom and his wife, Nancy, hardly suspect that before the night is over Jens Soering--neurotic boyfriend of their youngest daughter, Elizabeth--will slash both their throats and report to Elizabeth that the murders they've planned for months have been completed. Investigators initially find no convincing suspects, although Elizabeth, a Univ. of Virginia coed with an English boarding-school background and an intimidating accent, proves to be a complex character who complacently lies to them about her back ground and her relationship with her parents. Shortly after questioning, she and Jens flee to Europe and Asia, where they live off petty con jobs until arrested in a London suburb for passing hot checks. The London police discover a packet of incriminating letters in the lovers' possession and contact the Virginia investigators. Elizabeth is tried in Virginia and given a 90-year sentence--but she never does manage to explain why she conspired to kill her parents (her ""reasons,"" often self-contradictory and obfuscatory, were that her parents smothered her with love, that they neglected her, and that they disapproved of her relationship with Jens). Currently in prison, Elizabeth now claims to be religiously reborn--another self-serving fantasy, the author implies. Jens has so far eluded extradition and trial. Although Englade (Cellar of Horror, 1988 paperback) fails in his dogged efforts to locate a viable motivating force for the murders, he proves more successful in evoking the homicidal couple's odd, obsessive relationship. In all: fascinating reading, if disturbingly inconclusive.