Trouble is again afoot in the Kentish countryside for introspective Superintendent Bone (A Knife at the Opera, etc.), who delivers a punk hitchhiker to Paleys, her home, and, over the backdrop of shrieking peacocks, finds matriarch Ysobel Marsh suffering heart spasms as househelper Anna falls to her death on top of her--a victim of a carelessly placed skateboard. Next, Ysobel's craftswoman daughter-in-law Fenny is stabbed with a spindle in her studio, and the body of Ysobel's son's first wife, intrepid explorer Kingsley--who simply disappeared ten years ago- -comes tumbling out of a retaining wall. Who's killing the women in Jake Marsh's household? Jake himself, a writer, seems interested only in finishing his latest book, although there are two other constants in his life: his afternoon tea with devoted mum Ysobel and his dalliances. Bone and his ever-hungry associate Locker, with thoroughness and a nod to the good cop/bad cop technique, interrogate all. There'll be one more murder attempt, however, before Bone can turn his attention from hate to love--and to his marriage with local schoolteacher Grizel. A superior tale with numerous strong-minded, independent women--and further proof that Bone is not only as sensitive as Dalgleish but well deserving of a wider audience.