A dazzling dawn breaks over the Stonehenge midwinter solstice, where the assembled new-age revellers are horrified to discover a green-painted human hand dangling from beneath a mound of snow, high on one of the stone lintels.
Leading the investigation into this peculiar death is DI Shanti Joyce and her partner, Vincent Caine. To Shanti’s chagrin the pair have become known as ‘the go-to team for weird stuff in the West Country’ and this festive fatality is the mother and Father Christmas of odd and ritualistic crimes.
Amidst the swirling flurries of Salisbury Plain, the unlikely duo discover that the deceased is none other than Hector Lovell-Finch, the eccentric Earl of Lovell Court, known to all as ‘Finch’ – and who also happens to be the father of the notoriously right-wing MP, Quentin Lovell-Finch.
It is no secret that relations between father and son have become decidedly frosty since Finch’s acrimonious divorce from Quentin’s mother, his conversion to environmentalism, and second marriage to an indigenous Brazilian environmentalist half his age. Now there is the icy issue of who will inherit the ancient Lovell-Finch Estate.
To make things more complicated, single mum Shanti has faithfully promised her son, Paul a magical Christmas with all the trimmings. Can this most knotty of English murders be untwined in just five days? And will the unlikely detective duo celebrate the season with merriment, mindfulness and mistletoe?