Driving home one evening, Foreign Service worker Meredith Mitchell, longtime girlfriend of Bamford’s Superintendent of Police Alan Markby (A Word After Dying, 1998, etc.), picks up a feisty young woman hitchhiker, dropping her, as requested, near Tudor Lodge, home of Carla and Andrew Penhallow and their son Luke. Penhallow is someone of importance in the European Union—a job that takes him abroad for months at a time, allowing him a second, secret family in Cornwall: his mistress, a painter with a small gallery, who died of cancer some time ago and his daughter Kate, the hitchhiker, who’s now turned up on his doorstep. While wife Carla sleeps upstairs, suffering from a violent migraine, Kate confronts Penhallow with bitter accusations of neglect, even as she hopes for acknowledgment and a place in this family. He eventually takes Kate to a hotel and returns home, only to be found by Carla the next morning on the back lawn—bludgeoned to death. Now starts the tedious business of questioning Kate (who promptly calls a lawyer friend) tracking down witnesses, and testing alibis until Markby has an inspired moment that leads him to a surprising killer. An intriguing start that bogs down midway, revives toward the finish, but gets no help at all from Alan and Meredith’s tepid affair. Still, warm and lively vignettes of an assortment of local characters will be a big plus for fans of the village scene.