Police Inspector Nick Trevellyan, of the West Country village of Hopbridge, is returning from a holiday in Venice with whip- smart, gorgeous girlfriend Alison Hope (Hope Against Hope, 1991) when he's confronted with the strangling murder of young, promiscuous, pregnant (shown by autopsy) Frisco Carstairs. Ben Lawson, 18-year-old son of Alison's cleaning-woman Dot, had thought himself engaged to Frisco--an idea that enraged his mother--and Ben's married older brother Alan had also bedded the girl; meanwhile, Nick's investigation turns up others who could have fathered her child. Surfacing too, and uncomfortably close to home, is some flourishing drug commerce. Finding Frisco's murderer takes a little longer--and proves to be another painful surprise. A bit too much attention is lavished on the joys and angst of Nick and Alison's liaison--but much wryly civilized dialogue, sharp insights into village life, and a neatly turned puzzle provide a crisply entertaining second adventure for Inspector Trevellyan and his sturdy sidekick Sergeant Bill Deacon.