Fleur Daxeny has an ingratiating manner, a madonna’s face, and a closet full of black designer suits—all of them weapons in her ceaseless effort to keep the wolf, and honest labor, from the door. Checking the newspapers for the obits of wealthy women, she purrs attendance on their dazed widowers, making herself indispensable until she’s ready to leave with whatever portable property she can tote off. When she sees the funeral notice for Emily Favour, she tricks herself out as usual and, armed with bogus memories of the deceased and a determination to lodge herself as deeply in Richard Favour’s bosom as possible, sets out to charm the bereaved husband. But Richard isn’t Fleur’s usual victim; her unexpected feelings for him keep her at his estate much longer than she’s accustomed to standing by her men; and his grasping family offers her practiced wiles lively competition—all complications Wickham (Swimming Pool Sunday, 1998, etc.) unfolds in her most decorously naughty fashion.