Visiting Lovegrove Priory with her brother and niece, Charlotte Tyler is enchanted by their hostess, Amelia Denby, the writer of sensational Gothic novels. Miss Denby's eccentricity extends to the grounds of her country house where she has etablished a hermitage complete with a mysterious character who has a seemingly tragic past. When the hermit is found shot dead all eyes turn in on the house party, and a further death makes clear that one of them is guilty. The local magistrate, Colonel Hartley, a veteran of Waterloo, must investigate the death, and enlist Charlotte's help, if he is to ensure the rest of the party are not picked off one by one. Rosemary Craddock has produced another cleverly constructed and delightfully depicted web of intrigue in the best tradition of the country-house murder mystery.