The residents of Shepford St Bernard are preparing for a party in the church hall in response to a request to boost congregation numbers, only their new vicar is a woman, and a young one, to boot, and this is not to everyone’s liking.
The morning after the party, the brooding resentment felt in the small community is made flesh, when an elderly woman is found dead outside her house, the contents of her safe having disappeared along with her attacker.
When Detective Inspector Harry Falconer, Detective Sergeant Carmichael and Detective Constable Roberts, the latter recently returned from sick leave, arrive on the scene, they learn that the safe had held a large quantity of very valuable pieces of jewellery.
As the investigation progresses, with efforts to find out who was in dire financial straits, or who might think they would benefit from the will, the violence escalates.
An attack on the police and a further murder follow, making it urgent that the offender is quickly apprehended, but a risky hostage-taking makes it look as if the detectives are too late to halt the violence and apprehend the murderer.