Miss Rendell is a consistently pleasurable performer who involves you in her most convincing characters as much as the crime. . . in fact three of them all dealing with the deaths and disappearances of youngsters -- one of longer standing occurrence. Burden, her provincial policeman, still undergoing withdrawal pain after the death of his wife (to the extent that he ignores his own children) identifies particularly sharply with the young mother of a little child lost -- particularly since she proves so alluring. And transient. . . . Miss Rendell's solution is something of a stretcher but up until then it affords exemplary entertainment.