When Inspector Steve Carmichael and his family move from London to the village of Moulton Bank in rural Lancashire they all expect a quieter existence, both domestically and professionally. After a career in the Met, Steve doubts that his new post will present much of a challenge, but is pleased to escape the intrigues of his old force, and knows that the move will delight his wife Penny, who spent her childhood in Moulton Bank.
However, in a matter of days a woman is murdered in the village, and Steve finds himself in charge of an investigation that casts dark shadows into the village's past.
When a second murder is committed, Steve finds himself under increasing pressure for a quick result, but is frustratingly hampered by the complex and divided loyalties of the villagers, all of whom, he begins to realise, have secrets to keep and white lies to tell.
As the case becomes increasingly complex and the Met begins to look like the quiet life, Steve finds himself drawn into intrigue, as his investigations begin to overlap with his family life in more ways than one.
The body of a beautiful young Estonian woman is found in a lake in rural Lancashire. Is it murder or a tragic accident?
As Inspector Steve Carmichael begins to look into the dead woman's life, he discovers a wealth of secrets and embarks on a murder enquiry. Lillia Monroe was a woman who had expensive tastes apparently had the money to satisfy them. Who did she meet regularly at a local hotel? How did she finance her love of fine things? And what does her diary reveal about liaisons and her true feelings about the men in her life?
Steve and his team must learn to look beyond the obvious and strip away layers of deception to reveal the motive behind Lillia's murder. As the dramas in his own family are played out, Steve's investigation into Lillia's death becomes a race to stop the killer striking again.
"The teenage boy lay back in the boat and let his hand slip into the cool, clear water. All was silent, save for the gentle lapping of the waves or the occasional cry of a far-off bird. Suddenly, his fingers became entwined in what he thought were weeds or maybe a disregarded fishing net. As his hand explored the long strands he discovered they were either wrapped around or attached to something hard and round. He slowly peered over the side of the boat to see the pale white face of a woman staring back at him, her eyes fixed with the cold expression of fear."
Set in rural Lancashire, this quietly gripping novel takes place during a winter freeze. Heavy snows have been forecast and everyone is hunkering down. In the village of Moulton Bank, however, Detective Inspector Steve Carmichael and his wife have been invited to a Valentine's Day dinner party given by local celebrity Caroline Lovelace, the presenter of a popular TV chatshow. Neither she nor her MP husband has ever taken any notice of the DI before, so Carmichael is feeling a little bit flattered…