It is winter in the Cotswolds, and a suspicious death has occurred. Psychic medium Madame Zelda is found dead on Christmas morning, an open box of chocolates by her side. DCI Hayley Pascal and her new oppo, DS Artie Frobisher, have little to occupy themselves over the dead time that is Christmas at Oxford Police Station, until the chocolates are found to contain a poisonous substance. Cold cases can wait. They now have a new case to solve: one of murder.
There are no shortage of suspects: the victim's feckless husband, Charlie; her simple-minded son, Luke; and Grant Vaughan, the man she has cut out of his mother's will. Added to these complications, Hayley Pascal is missing her daughter, who lives with her ex-husband in Paris and who has promised to visit her at New Year but doesn't.
Here is a straightforward murder mystery in the tradition of Agatha Christie, but it is also a story of ordinary people driven to drastic measures through loneliness, misery, and the need for revenge.