Winifred Eagle and Birdie Peacock are preparing for the opening of their new bookshop, which will specialize in crime fiction. So perhaps they are extra-sensitive to the mystery that is currently dominating local news - the disappearance of two local women.
They would be even more disturbed if they knew what Chief Superintendent Charmian Daniels now knows - four other women have gone missing, and with every disappearance, the local police have received a letter containing the victim's name and one of her possessions.
To take her mind off the increasingly worrying case, Charmian attends the launch of her friends' bookshop. But a gruesome discovery is made in the shop's garden - a stone coffin and two bodies. One body has been in the ground for centuries. But the second body, that of a woman, is much fresher . . .