Three separate incidents featuring French police commissaire Henri Castang (Castang's City, etc.) comprise the plot here. First, Castang's wife Vera--in a chance encounter--befriends a frightened Birgit Rennemann in Munich, where Castang is attending an international police conference; Birgit, living apart from her husband, is fighting efforts by her VIP in-laws to gain custody of their grandchild. . . with a disastrous result, witnessed by Castang. Then, back in France some time later, Marlene--wife of Castang's erratic, alcoholic writer-friend Roger Riderhood--dies in an ambiguous confusion of suicide/murder. And finally, urged on by English detective Geoffry Dawson (a Munich-conference acquaintance), Castang helps to investigate the purported suicide of a young French couple sailing the Devon coast: Dawson thinks it's murder--and together he and Castang eventually tie the crime to an eminently respectable closet-terrorist. More a collection than a novel, offering three tales of uneven appeal, but Freeling's quirky, enigmatic style--with its strange mixture of coarseness and delicacy, oblique asides and penetrating character sketches--gives textural richness even to the more mundane story-lines.