After moving to the idyllic Roseland peninsula of Cornwall to escape urban crime, the Baxter family is implicated in a murder when its youngest son, Ben, finds a body on the beach.
The corpse is 17-year-old Samantha Trudgeon, daughter of a local farm family, schoolmate of Luke Baxter and pupil of part-time teacher and financial expert Rob Baxter. Luke, who gave Samantha a ride home the night of the murder, soon finds himself answering questions at the local nick. Sally Baxter is unnerved by her husband Rob’s strange lack of support for the family in a time of crisis. Only the calm professionalism of DCI Channon keeps her sane. His quiet style winkles more information out of suspects than the abrasive personality of his number two, DS Bowles. Although Luke is a prime suspect, the police are also looking at farm laborer Georgie Gribble, cross-dressing hiker Barry Miller and lothario farmer Sam Deacon. Gribble, who apparently knew too much for his own good, turns up hung in a field like a scarecrow. Forensics are not much help, but the intuitive Channon keeps on quietly asking questions that finally lead to a most surprising motive and killer.
Etchells (The Jericho Trumpet, 1996, etc.) couples the harrowing ordeal of a likable family with an artful mystery.