Cotswolds inhabitants are used to bad weather, but the night sky is especially foggy as Rory and Molly Harris, the new vicar and his wife, drive slowly home from a dinner party in their village of Sumpton Harcourt. They struggle to see the road ahead - but then screech to a halt. Right in front of them, aglow in the headlights of their car, a body hangs from a lightning-blasted tree at the edge of town. But it's not suicide; Margaret Darby, an elderly spinster of the parish, has been murdered - and the villagers are bewildered as to who would commit such a crime, and why. Agatha Raisin rises to the occasion, delighted to have some excitement back in her life as if truth be told, she was getting bored of the long run of lost cats and divorces on the books.