A birthday gathering 10 years after World War I ends in murder.
Surrounded by the family members he’s gathered to celebrate his 60th birthday, wealthy Penrose Llewellyn drops an unwelcome bombshell. Pen’s less well-to-do relatives, who count on him to make their paths smoother, find his decision to marry Anna Douglas, a widow with a grown son, a nasty surprise. Present for the party are Pen’s sister, Ida, and her nervy daughter, Verity; his brother Theo, a lawyer with an elegant and expensive wife; and, rather unexpectedly, the youngest in the family, Huwie, a ne’er-do-well none of them has seen in years. Pen has also invited some local friends, including Dr. Fairlie, a general practitioner who struggles to maintain the remnants of an ancient estate and is in love with Carey Brewster, whose cranky stepmother has died, leaving her free to pursue new interests. Unfortunately for the good doctor, Carey’s in love with Anna’s son, Jack, who travels the world as a botanist. The other guest is Kate Ramsey, an old friend of Ellen Reardon, whose husband, DI Herbert Reardon (Broken Music, 2011), is assigned the case when Pen dies after the party under suspicious circumstances. Reardon and his sergeant, Joe Gilmour, travel to the little Shropshire town of Hinton Wyvering, where they discover that the family is hiding many secrets from the past and present that could be motives for murder. A second death makes the pair dig even deeper into the backgrounds of the friends and family to uncover a desperate killer.
Eccles (The Firebird’s Feather, 2014, etc.) sets her war-battered detective a second police procedural with plenty of suspects and unexpected twists.