On the last point - of course one has to agree with Barbara, but it's handy to have some idea about the contents before one starts reading. For example, I probably wouldn't read it if it was science-fiction or fantasy (yes, my mother used to say that I suffered from "fixed ideas", but life is too short), or if it was disagreeably violent - even though it's by Barbara. (Actually, I probably would read this book in those cases, since I'd paid for it! I'm the sort of person who always has breakfast in hotels if it's included in the price, and usually I finish up all the food on my plate, whether at home or out. I'm known to some as "the human dustbin [trash-can]".)

Anyway, here's my suggested blurb, an adaptation of Barbara's but not as explicit. (I was genuinely unsure about who was going to die - it could easily have been King himself.)

King Sarcowicz, robot-designer, is clumsy in his personal relationships and physically clumsy too. Yoked together on a lucrative project with people he dislikes, King finds undercurrents of double-crossing and treachery. Soon, there are two deaths, and a cat-and-mouse game develops as Marian Larch and her partner Ivan Malecki come closer and closer to the truth.

Like Jon, I found the two deaths, on adjacent pages, quite shocking (and I still retain some of my childhood over-squeamishness), but, unlike him, I couldn't imagine that happening to me. (By the way, where does the term "double whammy" come from? Not baseball again?!?)

One thing I forgot to mention: my first boss here at Leeds University Library was called Dennis Cox! But he's still alive, and will be 80 next year. (He was quite a distinguished librarian of the old school, but it was during his time (between 1973 and 1986) that the cataloguing process and issue system were automated and then re-automated. Those were jobs in which I was heavily involved, so I owe my interest in computing largely to him.)