London's private investigator John Samson (A Charmed Death, etc.) has taken on a strange new client--Mrs. Huntingdon-Winstanley--aging, ailing, vain, rich, imperious, and afraid of the influence their recently acquired valet-chauffeur, Robert Mansour, is exercising on her handsome, well-preserved husband, Simon. Simon and Mansour's frequent visits together to France (Mrs. H.-W. never leaves their lush apartment)--supposedly to look for additions to Simon's collection of French literature--have frightened and mystified the old lady, and she wants Samson to follow them and find out what's really going on. His uneasiness about the case increases when he discovers that the p.i. who preceded him was killed in a suspicious car accident; when his own office is torched; and when he's attacked one night in a dark alley. His quarry, once in France, proves resourceful and wily, but Samson manages to get glimpses of a homosexual network tied into out-of-the way clinics for cosmetic surgery, with some hush-hush political overtones. He must also struggle with layers of deceit from his client--until the last one is bared. Clever plotting, slightly undermined by some cloudy gaps; an ambience of exotic menace; and the author's economical, no-nonsense writing style make for an offbeat, steadily absorbing adventure.