The story opens in 1940. Harriet Vane - now Lady Peter Wimsey - has taken her children to safety in the country. But the war has followed them: glamorous RAF pilots and even more glamorous land-girls scandalise the villagers; the blackout makes the night-time lanes as sinister as the back alleys of London.
Then the village's first air raid practice ends with a very real body on the ground - and it is not a war casualty. Before long Harriet - with the crucial support of Lord Peter when he returns from intelligence duties abroad - is battling her way to the solution of a complex and dangerous mystery.