Nobody ever said Daryll Flatt’s life was any bed of roses. By the time he was 11, he’d already been deserted by his abusive father, abandoned by the brother who said he loved him but took off for a job in Australia anyway, and bereaved of the grandmother who’d taken him in. But does any of that excuse his bashing in the head of Geraldine King, the temporary foster mother his social worker had placed him with? Now that Daryll, who unhesitatingly confessed to the Cambridge police, has served 18 months of his sentence, Howard Flatt, back from Australia, wants inquiry agent Laura Principal to find out why the boy killed his guardian. What makes a child kill? asks Laura, whose scant experience (Every Breath You Take, 1994) has done nothing to prepare her for this case. Luckily, the investigator’s Q-and-A with Geraldine’s uncordial neighbors and Daryll’s uncaring relatives will be broken up by distractions—an unexpected brush with her partner Sonny Mendlowiz’s latest divorce case, an attempt to track down the flasher who’s been menacing her friend Helen Cochrane’s daughter—that will end up throwing unexpected light on Geraldine’s murder. Highly competent parboiled British detective work, even if a crucial few of the dramatis personae remain muffled.