Lancashire DCI Denis “Percy” Peach (Dusty Death, 2005, etc.) continues to sass his boss and sleep with his sergeant while solving the murder of a modern young witch.
Annie Clarke, 23, whose body hikers Dermot and Eleanor Boyd stumble across while fixing a broken shoelace at a deserted farm halfway up Pendle Hill, was the most recent member of Brunton’s Wiccan coven and was three months pregnant at the time of her death. So Peach, accompanied by comely DS Lucy Blake and a striking, six-foot-three black constable named Clyde Northcott, has plenty of suspects to interview. Openly gay teacher Jo Barrett admits that Annie had a schoolgirl crush on her, and coven leader Kath Howard acknowledges maternal feelings for the dead girl, but both deny any involvement in the killing. Annie’s boss, Alan Hurst, describes their relationship as strictly professional, and her current boyfriend, Matt Hogan, had only been dating her for a week when she disappeared. Heather Shields, Annie’s roommate, insists that the two had parted as friends. But Peach persists until his interrogations—smartly punctuated by verbal jousts with Chief Inspector Tommy “Bloody” Tucker and more corporeal tangles with Lucy—bear the requisite fruit.
Although he’s unconventional in both manner and method, Peach conducts a pedestrian investigation leading to an unsurprising conclusion.