In London's East End, the brutal murder, in his bleak apartment, of elderly loner Ernest Clare is engaging the energies of CID's Colin Cass and his superior officer Bramwell. Clare lived on Inkerman Street, home to many senior citizens, most of whom spend time at Bricklayers, the local pub, where retired accountant G.D.H. Pringle's dearly loved Mavis Bignell tends bar. Clare was an occasional visitor who handed out small bequests at Christmas time. Rumor has Karl Gough--lorry driver and small-time crook--pegged as the killer, especially when it's learned that his wife, Sharon, is in the hospital, paralyzed and near death after a violent beating. Meanwhile, Karl is on the run, but reports of a prowler and news that Clare was far from impoverished inspire Pringle (Mayhem in Parva, etc.) to further thought. He pins down Clare's murderer, motive rooted in history, but reveals nothing, while Cass and his co-workers probe the tawdry, tragic life of Sharon Gough. The two narratives never really mesh. Plotting is over the top here, with enough angst and twisted character for several novels. Flow and cohesion come up short, but interesting backgrounds and acid-tinged vignettes provide sporadically intriguing entertainment. Medium-grade Livingston.