Bettina Bilby, 40-ish, lives in a modest suburban house with her hectoring, widowed mother, next door to best friend Zoe Rome and her mother. It's a Bank Holiday weekend in England, and Bettina is minding four of her neighbors' cats, despite her mother's carping objections. A savage rainstorm rages, in the midst of which, in the yard, one of the cats finds a dead carrier pigeon that turns out to have been carrying a fortune in precious stones. Heaven forbid, though, that Bettina should report this to the police (doesn't trust them) or plan to sell the gems and escape her mother (too uptight). Instead, she boxes the pigeon, puts it into Zoe's freezer, carries the jewels in her cardigan pocket, has extended conversations with the cats, and tries to cope with Mom's nastiness and nosiness, along with a sudden rash of strangers in the neighborhood. These include a Chanel-clad woman claiming to be a market researcher, along with half a dozen inappropriately dressed men (one of whom ends up dead) poking through storm-created puddles. Add to this an attack on Zoe's mother and the disappearance of high-living neighbor Sylvia Martin--a disappearance that leaves Sylvia's husband seemingly unruffled. The plot's clumsy resolution, however, does contain a surprise--its sole vindication. Veteran Babson's work ranges from first-class (Past Regret, 1992) to pedestrian. This one, unfortunately, hits the pits.