Richardson (Murder in Waiting, The Dying of the Light, etc.) returns in top form, this time sending Augustus (``Gus'') Maltravers to help a friend, in the ancient village of Medmelton, discover just what his stepdaughter Michelle is up to. Gus soon realizes that the cranky teen is trying her best to resurrect her lover, the debauched poet Patrick Gabriel, who was found murdered in the churchyard a year ago. But who is abetting her in her midnight sorties on the church site, and where did he or she get hold of the rare text outlining myths perpetrated by the 18th- century Ralph the Talespinner to use as a guide? With an assist from his companion Tess, Gus unravels three Medmelton secrets: the warped manipulator of Michelle; the murderer of Gabriel; and the identity of Michelle's real father. Keenly observed village life and loves, plus several amusing depictions of gossip-mongers, xenophobics, and guilt-riddled philanderers (both male and female). A treat for puzzle fans and lovers of the small British mystery.