Thea Osborne hopes to spend a quiet Christmas house-sitting for the Shepherds in the picturesque Cotswold village of Stanton, close to Broadway. Walks in the local countryside with the dogs and perhaps a meal in the pub are all the excitement she wants. When her arrival at the village coincides with the funeral of local businessman Douglas Callendar, found electrocuted in his bath, Thea's interest is stirred but the onset of flu threatens to prevent any sleuthing. However, when two people show up brutally murdered the following afternoon, even battling a fever, Thea finds herself thrust into the middle of yet another police investigation. With the Callendar family linked to most of the village, Stanton is bursting with motives for the murders including jealousy, closures of footpaths and secret animal research. Thea turns to local residents for clarification and protection, but even the most seemingly trustworthy of them might turn out to be unsafe, and she wonders whether there is anybody at all who might be relied on to help her survive the festive season.