A major improvement for Allan, whose sleek new crime-suspenser has little of the feverish soap-and-sex which marred An Inside Job and A Mortal Affair. Allan's heroine is widowed playwright Julia Sturgis, who has a happy chance-encounter reunion with old flame Richard Newton: years ago Richard jilted Julia to marry rich Agnes and went on to head a cosmetics empire founded with Agnes' money (she's a cowed alcoholic) but powered by his own energy and sagacity. There's a large shadow in Richard's life, however, as Julia soon learns: problem child Neil, 14, product of the bleak Richard/Agnes marriage. So Julia, eager to help, suggests that Neil be sent to a special school in Italy. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Julia, her shipping-tycoon lover Tony Gregory has ties to the Syndicate that go back to his miserable Italian childhood. And when the Syndicate targets Neil for kidnap and ransom, Tony uses the Julia connection to feed information on Neil's movements to his shady bosses. (Meanwhile, too, the boy has his own mischief-making scenario.) It all builds to a neat, convincing climax--a satisfying close to a small, quick serving of sophisticated crime-entertainment.