Tucked away in the charming English village of Ferne Basset, the local rectory is supposed to be a place of safety, not danger. So when ex-vicar Lionel Lawrence opens the rectory to help young offenders he has no way of predicting the consequences--least of all that they will include blackmail and murder. The mysterious disappearance of the wild Carlotta, his most recent charge, seems to involve both. And not only has Carlotta vanished, but village resident Charlie Leathers is found dead. Although Charlie was not the most popular man in town, few people seemed to hate him enough to murder him.
Inspector Barnaby comes to the scene as the small town buzzes with theories about the unfortunate events. It's not long before Barnaby has ideas of his own--Ferne Basset offers a wide variety of plausible suspects. However, what Barnaby doesn't know is that before his death Charlie witnessed what might have been Carlotta's suicide--or murder.
A man is dead, a girl is missing, and a town is in chaos as long-kept secrets begin to unravel, with deadly repercussions.