Virginia Freer, house-guest of artisan friends in the unspoiled village of Still-beam, is puzzled by the seemingly impromptu appearance of her long-estranged husband Felix--who's taking thinly veiled interest in some of the villagers: the Fyffe sisters, Olivia and Carleen, who write historical romances; affluent, 50-ish widow Barbara Gabriel; and (Felix's prime target, apparently) Basil Deering, a poet with mass appeal who's just become engaged to Carleen. Then Carleen is found murdered, in very confusing circumstances, and soon afterwards Basil is stabbed to death. So Felix must at last confess that he's working for a detective agency, the latest in a series of slightly shady jobs--but one for which he seems to have a real affinity, since he turns up the solution (unsurprising) one step ahead of the police. Felix himself is by far the best thing here: wayward, diffident, hugely appealing. Otherwise? Typical middle-level Ferrars--leisurely, skilled, and just a bit mechanical.