This English author of historicals (pseudonymously) and a competent mystery (A Vow of Silence, 1990) now turns to suspense in this sluggish treatment of a usually gripping subject--the abduction of a small child. Joy Prentice, a single parent, has been supporting herself and three-year-old Sally--a pretty tot with an imaginary playmate--by free-lance typing and waitressing. It's from the restaurant where Joy works at night, and where Sally sleeps in a back room, that the child is kidnapped. Among those straining for a solution and urging tea and rest for Joy over a period of days are: concerned police, always available; work acquaintances; and Rory Baird from Toronto, a vacationing teacher and writer. Even Sally's father drops by--for publicity and to make a pass. Then odd, paternal-to-threatening notes begin to arrive from the kidnapper--and there'll be a hunt for an accomplice, a death, and a command performance in the cemetery where Sally used to play, before the happy reunion (in which Sally's imaginary playmate figures prominently). Old mystery/suspense hands will disdain the sudden appearance of the villain, and tire of the namby-pamby characters. Passable, but in all a bit bloodless.