A murder investigation hits close to home for an experienced police officer in the north of England.
Taking a wrong turn in a snowstorm, Inspector Vera Stanhope finds a car with only a baby inside. With no cellphone service, she drives to the nearest house, which just happens to belong to her estranged relatives. Vera’s cousin Juliet and Juliet’s husband, Mark Bolitho, are giving a dinner party in hopes of courting prospective donors to support Mark’s plan of converting their estate into an art center, promoting Mark’s artistic interests and keeping the faltering estate alive. When a farmer tied to the estate discovers the body of a murdered woman in the snow near the main house, Vera becomes involved in a case that bring her closer to her only family. The car belongs to a retired schoolteacher who often loaned it to Lorna Falstone, the mother of a baby son. The suspects in her murder include the dinner guests along with Juliet’s snobbish mother, Harriet, and Dorothy Felling, a superior housekeeper who lives with her husband and child in a tied cottage. It seems unlikely that a madman wandered out of the storm to kill Lorna, who’s never identified the father of her child. After the baby is taken to Lorna’s parents, who own a farm nearby, a second murder spurs Vera and her team to investigate a tangled web of family connections and buried secrets.
Fans will enjoy matching wits with Cleeves’ eccentric sleuth right up to the dangerous surprise in her denouement.