Ambitious young British policeman Martin Tait, who has appeared here and there in previous cases for stolid Chief Inspector Douglas Quantrill (The Quiet Road to Death, etc.), takes center-stage this time--as he visits his rich aunt Con in the wee town of Fodderstone. . .and discovers the body of long-missing village lass Sandra Websdell, tenderly laid out in an empty cottage. Sandra, it seems, has ""literally been frightened to death""; and other evidence suggests that, prior to her demise, she was held captive in some unknown rural hide-out. So Inspector Quantrill, arriving to take charge of the case, begins searching for that hideaway--and wondering which of several loutish village types might be the psychotic kidnapper. (Virtually the entire village-pub crowd is under suspicion--because of crude lies about alibis.) Meanwhile, Martin (officially off-duty) lends a hand in the Websdell case. . .but is far more concerned about dear ailing aunt Con, who has decided--for very noble reasons--to disinherit him. And by the time Inspector Q. closes in on the pathetic culprit (obvious from the start), the greedy and shallow Martin finds himself a suspect in the death of aunt Con (who has inconveniently committed suicide). Awfully short of plot substance this time around, Radley fills things out with a belabored red herring (what the pub crowd is really up to), chunks of dark psychology, and the rather overdrawn (occasionally downright unpleasant) Martin subplot. But devotees of the modern English-village mystery will again find--if not the engrossing stuff of A Quiet Road to Death--a serviceable blend of ironic characterization, sour atmosphere, and creepy secrets.