All men should have a hobby: it keeps them out from under their wives' feet. A bit of DIY, gardening, bowls or snooker, mysterious activities in the potting shed - fine. Dennis Brinkley's hobby, though, was killing machines. No wonder the village of Forbes Abbot was uneasy . . .
Mallory Lawson's believes that inheriting his aunt's beautiful house in Forbes Abbot may have saved his sanity, and perhaps even his life. It enables him to take early retirement from his appalling teaching job in London, and his wife Kate to realise her dream of starting her own company. Life will be so much gentler and simpler in the country, won't it?
But Forbes Abbot, for all its old-fashioned charm, is not quite the close-knit community it seems, and little differences and squabbles can become violent - even murderous. Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby has encountered many intriguing cases in his years on the force, but the case of the ghost in the machine is one to test even the most experienced of detectives.