Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh has been looking forward to a quiet holiday at his aunts cottage on Monksmere Head, one of the furthest-flung spots on the remote Suffolk coast. With nothing to do other than enjoy long windswept walks, tea in front of a crackling wood fire and hot-buttered toast, Dalgliesh is relishing the thought of a well-earned break. However, all hope of peace is soon shattered by murder. The mutilated body of a local crime writer, Maurice Seaton, floats ashore in a dinghy, dragging Adam Dalgliesh into a new and macabre investigation.