Detective Chief Inspector St. Just finds himself with a pretty puzzle when a father and son are murdered in a snow-shrouded Cambridgeshire manor house.
The family of wealthy mystery writer Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk have arrived in response to a shocking wedding invitation. Long divorced from his first wife, he delights in keeping his unloved heirs on edge by constantly changing his will. Upon their arrival, they learn that he has already married beautiful, aristocratic Violet Winthrop, who Ruthven, his oldest son, announces was accused of murdering her first husband. Although Ruthven has usually been his favorite, Sir Adrian does not seem unduly upset when he is found brutally murdered in the wine cellar. As for his remaining children: self-absorbed George arrives with a girlfriend as stunning as she is pregnant; Albert is an actor with a drinking problem; and Sarah seems to take pains to remain unattractive while she writes successful cookbooks. In addition, the household includes a private secretary, a cook, her son the houseboy and an ancient gardener. When Sir Adrian is at last fatally stabbed in his study, St. Just looks among the houseguests and staff for the guilty party. As so often turns out in English country-house mysteries, the answer lies buried in the past.
Malliet’s debut combines devices from Christie and Clue to keep you guessing until the dramatic denouement.