In England, 1923, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple has made a decision that, while shocking to her class, is in perfect keeping with the spirit of the times. Rather than live with relatives until she marries, she has undertaken to earn her own living with her writing. Her series of articles on country manor houses has proven popular with the readers of Town and Country and in February she travels to Occles Hall to research her latest piece.
What she finds there is a household under the thumb of the ill-tempered and demanding Lady Valeria. The discovery of the body of a pregnant maid buried in the winter garden does nothing to improve Lady Valeria's mood. When the local constabulary arrests the Welsh under-gardener who had been involved with the maid for the murder, Daisy is sure of his innocence and suspects that the whole affair is consciously being swept under the carpet. Wary of the air of secrecy that permeates Occles hall and determined to prove the innocence of the young Welshman, Daisy convinces Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard to investigate the murder—a murder that is more complex and horrifying than either could have imagined.