Many mystery writers love to make things easy for themselves. They make the detective be a member of the police, a person hired by the victim's family, or the victim herself or himself. The detective is endowed with fascinating, superhuman, characteristics that are worth the price of the book alone. Then, the author will often throw in some gruesome type of crime to build up interest. Finally, the plot will be convoluted . . . and punctuated with intriguing action. A book like that will be viewed as a superior resource by many readers.
Simon Brett, however, takes a much harder route. His detectives in this book (and in the Fethering mysteries series) are as-different-as-night-and-day neighbors, Carole Seddon (a divorced, shy Home Office retiree) and Jude (a no-last-name "alternative healer" using energy fields). Carole and Jude have no official status as detectives . . . but solve the mystery anyway. This detective approach requires great writing, deft plotting, and brilliant imagination. Read this book and admire this remarkable work!
As the book opens, Jude has been invited to treat a horse. This is a strange request for Jude . . . but one of her well-to-do human clients, Sonia Dalrymple, is paying so Jude is willing to give this a try. Carole agrees to tag along. Once at the stables, Sonia isn't there. When Jude checks around, she finds the body of a dead man, the stable's owner Walter Fleet, with his blood just cooling. A noise in the distance makes Jude think that the murderer may just be leaving. Carole snoops around while they wait for the police and finds signs that someone has been sleeping in the stables.
What's going on? It's not clear. In the background, someone has been mysteriously destroying mares in violent rampages. Might Fleet have surprised the horse assailant?
Carole and Jude learn that Fleet had annoyed a lot of people, mostly the husbands of the women he flirted with. There's also another mysterious healer in the background, Donal, who is willing to drop hints about what might be going on if you buy him enough whiskey before he takes off.
Carole finds herself being more of an investigator than usual. She interviews a source who works as a grocery store cashier. Casual contacts turn up more information.
Ugly secrets turn out to be hidden in the back rooms of several local marriages. Those secrets start to tumble out before the pressure of the two neighbors . . . and begin to reveal the shape of the crime.