This is an historical crime mystery set in the High Peak district of Derbyshire in the 1870s. The police detective, Thomas Brunt, who first appeared in Rescue from the Rose, appears here too, but as a much younger man.
It might be almost entitled ‘The Search for Amy Harrington’ or ‘The Case of the Missing Girls’; for when Brunt, in search of Amy, makes the long journey to the very remote hamlet of Piper’s Fold he finds that there has been something of a traffic in young girls in this tiny, enclosed community. Brunt’s journey is not assisted by the vagaries of the Cromford and High Peak Railway (a piece of authentic history) which contrived to take five and a half hours to cover thirty-three miles. In this novel the effective boss of the line is the driver Thomas Beresford, a splendid rustic eccentric and a truly comic character.
Brunt’s investigation entangles him in an extraordinary web of legend, folklore, rustic customs and secret community loyalties. The story develops excitingly as Brunt picks his way through mysteries and lies, and ends with a pleasing denouement.