When her brother, Charles, suddenly arrives on her doorstep one cold October evening, Hester Monk is shocked - as much by the unexpectedness of the visit as by the nature of it. For since her marriage to Monk, Charles and his elegant wife, Imogen, have kept their distance. But now Charles is seeking Hester's help; he believes his wife is having an affair - there can be no other explanation for her recent strange behaviour. But before Hester is able to investigate, a tragedy occurs.
Murder has taken place not far away in an artist's studio and two women have been brutally killed. Having left the police force with extreme ill feeling between himself and his superior, the last thing Monk wants to do is face the demons of his past. But, in the course of his work, Monk is left with no choice but to visit his old adversary, Runcorn, and involve himself with the sensational murder case.
As Hester and Monk begin their individual investigations, it seems that behind the respectable facades of the upper classes, deception, betrayal, and even violence, are rife.