What role does the mysterious Miss Hope, former governess to the Bulgarian royal family, play in the bizarre murder at the Villa Byzantine? And does she in fact actually exist? Antonia Darcy and Major Hugh Payne attend a birthday party for one of their Hampstead neighbours, little knowing they will end up investigating the grisly death of one of Melisande Chevret's other guests. The ageing actress becomes a natural suspect when her love rival is killed. But after that first murder, another murder takes place at the Villa Byzantine. The owner of the exotically styled house is royal biographer Tancred Vane, but he swears he is innocent. And surely his new friend Catherine Hope, an elderly lady helping him with his research, can have nothing to do with it? It looks as though the victim's daughter is to blame - but how likely is it that a teenage girl should have a dainty silk handkerchief bearing her monogram? And would she drop it so conveniently beside her mother's dead body?