On the night of a blizzard in January
1963, an elderly couple who live in a tiny Worcestershire village are
summoned to their daughter’s cottage two and a half miles away at Longdon,
on urgent but unspecified business. When eventually they reach their
daughter’s cottage, exhausted and worried, they find it warm but empty.
Unable to face the journey back home that night, they prepare a simple meal
for themselves preparatory to retiring to bed in their daughter’s cottage.
The following morning, the concerned neighbours find the couple still
sitting at table, poisoned by a bottle of contaminated wine. A student is
found to have been killed by the same rare poison in his London bed-sit
within days of the Longdon murders. Coincidence? Surely not! Inspector
Wickfield is appointed to find out.
His inquiry is hampered by the repeated appearance of the couple’s son, who
is a senior officer in the Canadian force. Weaving his way round red
herrings and dead ends, Wickfield requires all his ingenuity, prompted by a
random crossword clue, to uncover a devious and intricate plot instigated by
a determined criminal.
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