Daniel Kind is a professional historian, who taught at Oxford and had a successful career as an author and presenter of a TV history series, which portrayed historians as detectives, constantly searching for clues to explain the puzzles of the past. But his world fell apart as a result of the suicide of his partner Aimee.
Accompanied by his new partner, the lovely if brittle Miranda, Daniel decides to escape to the Lake District, and they buy Tarn Cottage, tucked away in a remote corner of Brackdale. This was once the home of Barrie Gilpin, a troubled young man who was suspected, after his death, of killing a woman whose body was found on the nearby Sacrifice Stone. Daniel wonders if there might be a different explanation for the murder.
Ben Kind, Danielís father, and an experienced police officer, deserted the family when Daniel and his sister Louise were young, and moved to the Lakes with his lover. Daniel was never able to rebuild the relationship while Ben was alive, but he wants to find out more about his father, and this hunger for knowledge brings him into contact with Hannah Scarlett.
Daniel has inherited his fatherís fascination with detective work, but as he comes to know Hannah, he becomes increasingly fascinated by her as well.