It is with some trepiditation that Meredith Mitchell returns to the Cotswolds: the Bamford district holds memories that, to put it generously, are bittersweet, and Christmas is a difficult time to find oneself a stranger in a new area. Yet she receives a kindly welcome, in particular from her old acquaintance Chief Inspector Markby and from her new neighbour Harriet Needham, a striking redhead with whom Meredith immediately feels a certain kinship. But Meredith has barely got to know her neighbour when Harriet is involved in a shocking - and fatal - accident at the Boxing Day Hunt. Witnesses to the death are plentiful, for the incident occurred in Bamford's crowded market square, and many are adamant it's a case of murder. Chief Inspector Markby is inclined to agree, although he suspects the guilty party is not the most obvious one. Before long Meredith Mitchell begins, reluctantly, to think he might be right ...