Panic ensues when a national treasure is stolen.
Canadian-born Penny Brannigan is long resident in Wales, where she runs a spa with her business partner, Victoria, paints, and solves mysteries (The Marmalade Murders, 2018, etc.). The latest concerns a special carved chair awarded posthumously in 1917 to the poet Hedd Wyn. Known as the black chair, it has been restored and is returning to the poet's family farmhouse, soon to be a national historic site. Local squire Emyr Gruffydd asks Penny to help plan a formal dinner for Remembrance Day, when the black chair will be on display. All goes well on the big day until Penny’s young friend Lane Hardwick falls with a tray of dishes and glassware and a waiter goes missing. When the guests arrive in the library to admire the black chair, it’s vanished and been replaced with a substitute. While she awaits the police, Penny searches for Lane, who hasn’t been seen in quite a while, and finds the missing waiter, Rhodri Phillips, near death after a spell outdoors in the cold rain; he dies before the ambulance can arrive. Once the autopsy shows Rhodri was smashed in the head by a rough object, the pressure intensifies to find the chair and the killer. Penny’s friend Inspector Bethan Morgan agrees that the theft must be an inside job. The thieves needed to know a great deal about the house and the party plans, and with the possible exception of Emyr’s new girlfriend, Penny can’t imagine any of the guests being involved. When Penny finally finds Lane, who’s been in hiding, he’s too afraid to tell her much except that he’s been threatened. A former thief who’s a friend of Penny’s suggests that an item like the chair must have been stolen for a private collector—a proposition that puts her on a tortuous road to the truth.
A soupçon of history and a whiff of lost romance combine for an unpredictable mystery.