Even Innes' many loyal fans may find their patience tested by this half-droll little doodle of a book--which comes perilously close to reading like a very old-fashioned, harmless-adventure yarn for young adults. Middle-aged Gilbert Averell (living in France for tax reasons) goes for a visit to his distressed sister in England; she's fretting about son Tim, a student active on the fringes of political activism. And indeed when Tim does show up at the family manse, he's frazzled--and reluctantly tells Uncle Gilbert the problem: someone is trying to kill him. So, with Tim's mum and sisters safely sent off to Italy, uncle and nephew team up with Tim's chatty friends to repel some apparent new attacks--and to figure out who is after Tim and why. The answer involves bank robbers, who then kidnap one of Tim's chums; and there's a finale with Gilbert and his young chums setting siege to the villains' hideout. True, Innes' literate, wry musings do save a page here and there. But what there is of the plotting is foolish, and the young characters' inauthentic dialogue is downright embarrassing. All in all, a very elderly-seeming whimsy (surprising since J. I. M. Stewart's non-mystery fiction remains quite it vigorous)--and a disappointment for admirers of Innes' many triumphs with and without Sir John Appleby.