When the remains of Belle Elmore--decapitated and carefully deboned--were dug up beneath the coal cellar, the London dailies feasted on the case in all its lovely melodrama. Cullen does the same with considerable sang-froid and investigative zeal, and a nice appreciation for the tacky side of Edwardian England. Belle was a music hall chanteuse, and her sisters of the Music Hall Ladies Guild are the avenging Furies. The culprit--there was never a doubt--was hubby Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippin, a quack of some renown who had momentarily stepped out of his role as the docile henpecked husband. Crippin had a true love--one Ethel LeNeve--for whose dear sake he canceled Belle's subscription. The pair fled with Scotland Yard in hot transatlantic pursuit. . . etc., etc. Crippin, who botched every detail of his ""perfect"" crime, captured the public's fancy, and everyone from Raymond Chandler to Alfred Hitchcock has since tried to help him out. Cullen, who writes with a steady eye on the ridiculous, raises every kind of hypothetical question when hard evidence falls him, but keeps the suspenseless plot moving along nicely on guesswork, curbstone psychology, and Crippin's Chaplinesque bungling. A delectable horror.