When illustrator Cassie Murcheson, after a bitterly failed love affair, uses her small capital to buy tiny Box Cottage in Dorset, all she wants is a peaceful place to work and heal. But what she gets is a nightmare. It starts with a dead bird on her doorstep, a vandalized room, a ghostly figure in the tangled back garden, and the oddly intense interest and concern of local policeman Sergeant Tom Blake. Cassie's black-bearded, taciturn neighbor Ted Cambridge is concerned, too, in his dour way. With the entrance into the case of county CID's Inspector Roper (A Fox in the Night, etc.), Cassie then learns that her cottage has a history of routed tenants and a suicide that Sergeant Blake thought highly improbable at the time. It had been the home of Ralph Thorn, estate manager for the Moxley family, who'd died in WW II. Since then only one tenancy had been untroubled--for reasons soon to become apparent. A gift from her neighbor leads Cassie to a truly gruesome discovery that sets Roper off on a search through local history; to a nearby nursing home; to Brighton; back to Box Cottage; more horrors; a reconstruction of black deeds, and a tense final ordeal for tough-minded Cassie. Full-fleshed characters breathing life; fine-tuned plotting that's loaded with subtle detail but never boring; and tension that rarely sags make for a top-notch police procedural. Hart becomes more masterly with each outing. This one's a must.