lawyer’s body is found on the beach in the small Cornish village of Porthaven, staked out with a tarred bag over its head, just as the peak summer season gets underway. When a second body is found bizarrely fixed to the floor of a nearby building not long afterwards, the laconic police surgeon remarks ‘Well, psychopaths need holidays too’.
Detective Inspector Treloar, a maverick to some bosses but a driven, committed investigator to his fellow officers, takes charge. When more bodies turn up, Treloar and his team are at first unsure - accident or murder?
There seems to be no connection between the victims whose murders are violent and sexual, with escalating viciousness.
What is going on? Could they have brought their fate with them; festering secrets from the past? Could either of the two mysterious men staying at the camp site be involved? Is it one or more doing the killing? What about the rabble of students in the big house or the local recluse and his enigmatic brother? What about embittered locals resentful of incomers buying up the village?
And who is the extraordinary female obsessed with birds, institutionalised in the South of France as a child, who reflects on her past as the story unfolds?
Then a brutal attack on one of their own shocks Treloar’s team, switching their focus in an unexpected direction and a long-held grievance based on a heartfelt, perceived injustice surfaces.