This is the first of six DI Fleming thrillers to be issued as e-books by Witness/Impulse Imprint of HarperCollins.
In the prologue we read about a woman awakening because she's cold. She realizes her pajamas are torn and she is bloody. Not only that, she's outside in a maze. She has been sleepwalking. Then she sees a figure running toward her. It looks like a man with horns, one of which stabs her in the heart.
The story is set in Scotland during an epidemic of foot and mouth disease among animals there and the resultant mass killing of suspect herds. You feel so badly for the farmers who are losing everything they've worked for. Many fall into depression or try in vain to prevent the authorities from entering their land. Detective Inspector Majory Fleming's beloved chickens and sheep are in danger from the disease.
Then we meet Laura Harvey, a London psychotherapist whose mother has just died. Laura is divorced, her sister had disappeared years ago, and suddenly she is homesick, not so much for her mom's home but for family and the countryside. She had written a letter to her sister, an open letter that is published in a London newspaper. She gets a response from someone who knew her sister.
There is another mysterious woman, unnamed, who owns a dress shop in London. Now what do you suppose she has to do with the story?
Laura ends up going to the Kirkluce area to research an assigned story for the newspaper about the human effects of the epidemic among their animals, and because she has learned her sister had been there for a time before she disappeared.
We meet a family of some of the strangest people you can imagine. And you thought your weird Uncle Frank was something! All of these characters of course have a part in the mystery. The plotline is excellent, even though for a change I figured out whodunnit and the weapon involved way before the end. It was how DI Fleming and her department discovered it that was interesting,
You'll love the characters in this book, especially Fleming and her husband. It's nice to see a crime solver with a happy marriage. The characters and their relationships as well as the scenery are what really make this novel.