Samuel Whitehead, landlord of the Rose and Crown, is a stranger in the lonely East Anglian village of High Eldersham. And when the newcomer is stabbed to death in his pub, it seems that the veil dividing High Eldersham from the outside world is about to be lifted. Detective Inspector Young forms a theory about the case so utterly impossible that merely entertaining the suspicion makes him doubt his own sanity. Surrounded by sinister forces beyond his understanding, he calls on a brilliant amateur and “living encyclopedia”, Desmond Merrion. Soon Merrion falls for the charms of a young woman in the village, Mavis Owerton. But does Mavis know more about the secrets of the village than she is willing to admit?