Selchester Castle in 1953 sits quiet and near-empty, its corridors echoing with glories of the past.
Or so it seems to intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth, wounded on a secret mission and now reluctantly assuming an altogether less perilous role at Selchester.
The Castle’s faded grandeur hides a web of secrets and scandals—the Earl has been missing for seven years, lost without a trace since the night he left his guests and walked out into a blizzard.
When a skeleton is uncovered beneath the flagstones of the Old Chapel, the police produce a suspect and declare the case closed.
Hugo is not convinced. With the help of the spirited Freya Wryton, the Earl’s niece, he is drawn back into active service, and the ancient town of Selchester is dragged into the intrigues and conspiracies of the Cold War era.
Hugo Hawksworth is on the tail of rogue Cold War agents at a top-secret government facility, while back home at Selchester Castle they’re awaiting the arrival of the new Earl—–an American, the long-lost son of the murdered Lord Selchester.
The town of Selchester, rich in scandal and gossip, is unsure what to make of the Earl or his teenage daughters, but they know that his sharp-tongued half-sister, Lady Sonia, furious at being deprived of her inheritance, won’t be a merry guest over Christmas.
The new Lord Selchester can cope with the strangeness of English country life, but he hadn’t expected stolen paintings—–or a body in the hothouse.
What’s the link between Hugo’s investigations and the suspicious goings-on in the town and at the Castle? And will he and his allies get to the heart of the mystery before the murderer gets to them?