English writer Glaister's specialty has been gripping, spooky little horror shows involving nasty wipe-outs and creepy eccentrics in decaying digs (Limestone and Clay, 1994, etc.). Here, however--in a tale about a young woman coming to grips with a legacy of cruelty--the subtleties of the psyche's netherworld are blunted by a shrill first-person narration, held to a high C of anguish. Just before the phone call announcing her father's suicide, Griselda (""Zelda"" to her lover, ""Grizzle"" to the family) soaks in the tub, ""wet and sad,"" contemplating what she regards as inevitable: Foxy, her lesbian lover, will leave her. Yet even the love of Foxy has not always allowed Grizzle to sleep some nights, as she remembers the terror of hearing as a child the screams of anguish from her father's nightmares. The cause of the screams was not the only bewildering secret held by Daddy, a man who spent years in a WW II Japanese prison camp. Why was he so good and kind to ten-year-old Vassily, a kid none of his peers could stand--with his yellow chisel face, disfigured chest, and deafness to boot? A born misfit, a born victim. Why did Daddy, wondered Grizzle and sister Hazel, take Vass for treats and projects and make the girls let him in the treehouse, where Grizzle kept her ant farm and Hazel gossiped with a best friend? How, exactly, did Vass come to be the victim of a hideous assault? In the present, Zelda finally discovers the source of her father's agonies. She also tends Vass's dying (ex-prostitute) mother, and confronts an adult Vassily, before at last managing to put some demons to rest. Glaister mixes a cool victim/tormenter tale with the heated pulse of an obsessed love affair--and the two don't seem to meld in tone. Still, she keeps one reading.