It was a perfect summer. The weather was unusually warm for the dales, and Harry Steadman, who was preparing a book on the area, and his wife, Emma, enjoyed their holiday at the Ramsden Bed and Breakfast.
Ten years later, the memories of that peaceful summer are shattered by Harry's brutal murder. Inspector Banks is back, investigating a case just as confounding as his first. Who killed the kindly scholar? Penny Cartwright, a beautiful woman with a disturbing past? Harry's editor? The shady land developer? Is it possible that young Sally Lumb, locked in her lover's arms on the night of the murder, could unknowingly hold the key to the case?