A famous mystery writer, Maurice Seton, is found dead at the bottom of a dinghy, with both hands chopped off at the wrists. Seton had imagined many ugly murders, but his own was bad beyond his imaginative power. His horrible death scares his strange neighbors.
Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh had been looking forward to a quiet holiday at his Aunt Jane’s cottage on Monksmere Head, one of the furthest-flung spots on the remote Suffolk coast. He was hoping to enjoy the scenery, go for long walks, drink his tea in peace in front of the fireplace and listen to the sound of the fire. It was a well-earned break. However, the murder shattered the peace. Now it is instead up to Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh, with some help from his remarkable Aunt Jane, to discover who typed the writer’s death sentence before the plot takes another murderous turn.