How can the loss of the Chantbury Pyx, a priceless reliquary stolen from a Bath gallery, be related to the murder of Mrs. Pryce, a vicious old biddy whose complaint to Lance Tyler's private inquiry agency about flowers purloined from her garden makes it all too easy for Tyler's partner, Joanna Mackenzie, to identify her when she's struck down with a hammer? Inspector James Carrick, Joanna's former superior officer and former lover (she lost her CID job over the affair), is thunderstruck by the possibility that the same hammer may have been used in both crimes. He's struck in other, more dramatic ways as well: After a brutal attack in her home leaves Mackenzie nearly dead, Carrick, returning to the flat to check the windows, ends up joining her in sick bay. Which of Mrs. Pryce's neighbors--the sweet-toothed agoraphobe with a biker boyfriend, the boorish fan of raucous modern music, the nursing home matron whose cats have a high accident rate, the army veteran subject to blackouts, or Carrick's own retired schoolmistress--can be responsible for a series of felonies ranging from stolen flowers and poisoned cats to murder? Duffy (Who Killed Cock Robin?, 1990, etc.) etches her unlovely characters so sharply that it's a shame the plot keeps snatching you away from them just as you're getting nicely acquainted. Plucky, angry Mackenzie in particular would be well worth a sequel.