And good riddance, too. Whoever finished off the bed- climbing little tramp at Dr. Robin Winterley's going-away party with a timely dose of Frances Winterley's tranquilizers did a favor to every woman remotely connected to Nottingham Hospital. Having already clawed her way up from the Mansfield slums, Loretta Dawes had obviously set her nurse's cap for the most eligible male. But which one was the most eligible? Certainly not her dental-technician boyfriend, Gordon Mudge, or her old flame, Dr. Peter Verity; maybe not even Robin's boss, Dr. Leo Masters, whose depressive, hard-of-hearing wife, Cynthia, unluckily beat her own disability by overhearing Loretta bragging about Leo at a neighborhood bar. Could it have been the man who'd gotten Loretta pregnant--and just who might that have been? Quietly effective Inspector Richard Montgomery, whom Shepherd (Thinner Than Blood, 1992, etc.) does well to keep in the shadow of these hothouse orchids, soon realizes that identifying Loretta's lovers doesn't narrow down the list of suspects much at all. Even if it did, there'd still be the complications caused by Dr. John Dyson, the pathologist who's carrying a torch for Frances, and nurse Alison Blake, the friend Loretta despised, who wonders if she could have been the intended victim. From the hook set by her sedately panting cast to the chillingly matter-of-fact denouement, Shepherd works with all the crisp efficiency of a night nurse. Civilized, nasty fun.