The Healers is the fifth novel in the Inspector Ramsay series by Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope crime series.
News of the murder first came to Inspector Stephen Ramsay early on Monday morning. He was in a meeting, one of the endless meetings the Chief Superintendent regularly called, and the summons from Sergeant Gordon Hunter came as a relief.
They found middle-aged farmer Ernie Bowles lying on his kitchen floor. He had been strangled, and was not a pretty sight. The gruesome discovery of his body had first been made by the beautiful Lily Jackman, a new-age traveller who was living with her boyfriend in a caravan on Bowles's land. Neither of them, however, had been close to the dead farmer, who had lived alone since the death of his mother and was, by all accounts, a rather unpleasant character.
Inspector Ramsay fears that this case will not be simple. In his experience, most murders are straightforward: an explosion of family pressure, the loss of control in a fight. But Bowles seems to have kept himself to himself, and Ramsay feels that to solve the mystery of his death he will need all the help he can get. Then another person is strangled, a woman who, on the surface, had absolutely no connection with the dead farmer. Surely two such killings in the same locality are more than just chilling coincidence?
When Ramsay hears of a third suspicious death, a very tenuous link between the victims takes on a new importance, for all were connected in some way to the Alternative Therapy Centre in Mittingford. Could one of the healers be a killer?