A bright, slightly wry, turn-of-the-century rural English lamplighter with an oddly likable Midas, Edwin Oxford, whose golden touch reaches beyond mere material success to something more sinister. ""Now maybe,"" said a fifteen-year-old Edwin to his murdered father's ""jubilant widow,"" ""we shall have a chance."" Then begins Edwin's ascent via the grocery business and an (unsought) alliance with his former employer's daughter, to not only wealth and respectability but also (again unsought--Edwin's self-sufficient pride is much admired) entry into the local nobility. But half-gypsy tart Anna, stepdaughter of the gamekeeper, takes advantage of Edwin's son Charlie's exuberant sexuality, collects one pay-off from Edwin, and returns to announce a pregnancy. By a quiet pool Anna's neck is snapped like a twig. The remainder of the tale meanders through steps in the solution of the crime, pleasant pairings of Oxford's three charming daughters, and, with a trace of comic undertone, some supernatural appearances. With all the hearth warmth of the period country-house genre plus a few chilly drafts--this offers the Norah Lofts readership something fresh and better.