After her bruising encounter with the law, Angela Marchmont has vowed to give up detecting, and is doing her best to forget the events of last winter and the terrible lie she told to save herself. So when a letter arrives from beyond the grave requesting her help and reminding her of the past, she is anything but pleased. Drawn reluctantly into one final case and spurred on by her guilty conscience, Angela soon discovers a viper's nest of family betrayals and hidden enmities which have lain undisturbed for years, and which may have led to the deaths of more than one person.
Despite her unwillingness to reopen old wounds, Angela knows she must put aside her own feelings and solve the mystery if she is ever to find peace. Can she get to the heart of the matter, right the wrong she has done and be happy at last?
The napkins were just being laid out when Mrs. Hudd looked up and said:
‘Who is that person?’
Angela glanced around to see whom she was talking about, and her eyes widened in surprise as she saw a young man standing in the doorway of the dining-room, looking about him as though seeking somebody. He had the air of someone supremely at ease with himself and the world. At that moment he spotted Angela, and she distinctly saw a smirk pass across his face as he made a bee-line towards the table at which the three ladies were sitting. Angela opened her mouth to speak, but was forestalled as he bent over, kissed her on the cheek and said:
‘Hallo, Mother. They told me I’d find you here. You might have let me know you were planning to go away.’
Angela was too confounded to say a word, but sat with her mouth still open.
‘Well, don’t just sit there with a face like a fish,’ said Freddy Pilkington-Soames, before she could find her voice. ‘It’s not like you to forget your manners.’ He turned to the other two ladies, beamed angelically and said, ‘The name’s Wells. I see you’re keeping my mother out of trouble, and I’ve no doubt you’re doing a fine job of it. Delighted to make your acquaintance. Budge up and make room, old girl,’ he said to Angela, who did so without thinking. Freddy sat down and called the waiter to bring more tea.
Mrs. Hudd and Miss Atkinson, thrilled by the new arrival and the possibility of discovering more about their new friend Mrs. Wells, who up until then had been somewhat circumspect about herself, were more than happy to shake his hand.
‘How do you do,’ said Mrs. Hudd. ‘Why, Mrs. Wells, I had no idea you had a grown-up son. You don’t look nearly old enough.’
‘I married very young,’ said Angela, with a glare at Freddy which would have caused anyone else to blush with shame. Freddy, however, was quite unembarrassable, and so merely simpered innocently at her.