Is Sylvester Manley ever in the wrong place at the wrong time. Late for work at the supermarket one evening, the youngster takes the worst of all possible shortcuts and suddenly finds himself witnessing a rape at the hands of three very large perps. Since he doesn’t think that yelling will stop them, he panics, flees, and sets in motion a process that ends by making him suspect number one. The victim, 16-year-old Kimberly Bullivant, is the daughter of Shandy Bullivant, partner in John Sampson’s private detective agency, central to 11 novels in this heretofore dependable series (The Suitcase Killings, 1998, etc.). Sylvester's bad run continues when Paul Bullivant, Kim's father, turns out to be an advanced neurotic waiting to turn obsessive. A victim of redundancy himself, he's been out of work now for over a year. Enraged by what was done to his daughter, he becomes a oneman posse, dedicated to finding and brutally punishing the guilty. In the meantime, John Simpson, worried about his upcoming prostate operation, leaves Shandy to direct the agency, calm her husband, comfort her daughter, and cooperate with Scotland Yard's investigation. Shandy's a pro, but that's a lot on her plate. Fortunately for the distracted sleuths, the brain-dead baddies cooperate fully in getting themselves caught.
Sluggishly paced and oddly disjointed. Disciplined plotting, usually a series strength, has vanished more completely than those three rapists.