Star-crossed lovers do their best to solve a series of crimes.
Fran Black’s husband has left her for a lover he’s gotten pregnant. But Fran is loath to upset her conservative mother by getting a divorce, still a scandalous step in 1920s England. She’s in love with Tom Dod, who’s done the honorable thing by marrying the sweetheart of his brother, killed in the war, even though his gallant gesture has trapped him in his own loveless marriage. When Tom’s Aunt Hetty calls him about some strange happenings at St. Agnes Durley Dean, where the new vicar’s popish ways have divided the congregation, Fran and Tom jump at the opportunity to resume their sleuthing (The Magic Chair Murder, 2018, etc.). Several of the vicar’s severest critics have died in suspicious accidents. The first of them drowned in a pond. Hetty’s friend Miss Tilling was found at the bottom of the stairs along with a group of items pulled from a shelf, including a heavy statue presumed to have hit her in the head. The most recent victim is Mrs. Ripley, the bank manager’s wife, a hypochondriac whose stomach problems, which everyone had assumed to be imaginary, suddenly killed her. Dr. Owen has certified all the deaths as natural or accidental, but when the police get a letter accusing Mr. Ripley of murdering his wife, her body is exhumed and found to contain arsenic. Once Ripley is arrested, the sleuthing duo is asked by his family to prove him innocent, a job that proves to be no easy feat.
Although mystery mavens will quickly follow the clues to the solution, there are still plenty of red herrings, period charm, and a love story to keep them reading.