Earnest, honest, likable contractor Ted Barlow is about to go bust; the bank is cutting off his credit, thanks to the high rate of defaults on mortgages taken out to purchase one of his conservatories (a sunroom attached to the back of a standing house). Barlow appeals to Manchester p.i. Kate Brannigan (Deadbeat, 1993) for help, and admits to an even greater complication: Many of the aforementioned conservatories have simply vanished! Kate's investigation unearths unscrupulous lawyer Martin Cheetham (later found hanging from his balcony in flimsy women's apparel); supersalesman Jack McCafferty, with an overstuffed bank account; and a brother-sister pair who are double-crossing everyone. And all this land-fiddling ties in with a separate real-estate scam that's been worked on Kate's chums Alexis and Chris--a scam that also involves complicated mischief perpetrated on the Land Registry. Clever plot twists--and Kate's wit has the bite of Fran Leibowitz's. Minor appearances by Deadbeat regulars Bill, Kate's computer-whiz partner, and rock-critic lover Richard.