“Killed! As in murdered?” With these words, Edwina Hackett launches herself into trouble. Wealthy and reclusive inventor Sebastian Oldfield is found dead in his study on a stormy winter night. There's no doubt it's murder: the wounds in his head and the bloodstained paperweight testify to that. And Edwina, who has come to Minstrel Manor to paint Oldfield's portrait, will let nothing stop her from following the ensuing investigation.
For newly-promoted Detective-Inspector Mallow of the East Fenshire Police, this is his first big case. He finds himself up against a plethora of suspects: the butler with a shady past; the dead man’s enigmatic assistant; the ne’er-do-well nephew who is deeply in debt; and the tenant farmer who had been summarily evicted.
And then there are the questions. How did the murderer get into the study? How did he get out? What is the significance of the illiterate note left under the body? Who has been forging Oldfield’s name? And what role has the mysterious and elusive Barnabas Merryweather been playing?
Gamely, Mallow sets out to tackle a crime that has its roots many years in the past. But nothing in his training or career to date has prepared him for Edwina…