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The "Brit with a Hit," as Bubbles's American fans know her, has been found on her Leven Vale estate, stabbed through the throat. Due to this victim's prominence and the shorthandedness of the local police, Detective Superintendent Martens is seconded from adjacent Birchester to take charge of the case. Her best suspect may be a "shambling mess of a man" given to exposing himself. Other likely murderers include Bubbles's secretary, a once-wealthy classmate involved with the decedent's stepfather; a French gangster whose affections Ms. Xingara too publicly rebuffed; and a computer geek who hoards Bubbles images from the Internet. As weeks pass without a breakthrough, however, Martens worries for her future with this investigation as well as her ability to resist Anselm Brent, a country constable of dubious talent, who nonetheless makes the hardened Harriet go all soft inside. Keating's persistent attention to his protagonist's sex life begins to grate, as his principal plot bounces repeatedly between hope and failure. But this novel--the second part of a trilogy, following The Hard Detective--compensates somewhat with a delightfully peculiar cast of secondary players and Martens's comical impatience toward everyone and everything around her, even her own media-made reputation. --J. Kingston Pierce