British author Dunn's first US publication packs private investigator Billy Oliphant and his budding daughter Kirsty off on what looks like a pleasant February weekend at Forestcrag Village in the north of England as the guests of electrician Sly Rogers, Billy's old friend and sometime employee. When David Morland, the resort's oily managing director, offers Billy the hush-hush, high-paying job of figuring out who's been poisoning the staff—the culprit seems to have been leaving the well-heeled guests alone—Billy turns him down because he doesn't like Morland and doesn't want to rearrange his work schedule on such short notice. But his refusal doesn't matter because a raging snowstorm cuts Forestcrag off from the rest of the world just as computer manager Eve Marton is discovering the hanged body of payroll manager Eric Salkeld. The local chief superintendent asks Billy to gather evidence and make preliminary inquiries until the coppers arrive, but the real reason for his phone call is to warn Billy that a prisoner Billy arrested before he was fired from the police force has escaped and is roaming the neighborhood. Meanwhile, some suspicious marks on the supposed suicide's body warn Billy that "I'm looking for a murderer. A different murderer's looking for me." There'll be enough corpses for half a season of And Then There Were None
and an intolerably anticlimactic finale before Billy decides that no more paybacks are due.
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