The Chalcot estate, a piece of leafy, traditional England hidden away behind high creeper-covered walls, was caught in a time warp.
Once again, as every year in late autumn, the killing season was about to begin. The predestined victims, hundreds of purpose-bred pheasants, their copper and red and bronze and green plumage echoing the colours of the landscape, wandered and pecked without heed while the shooting party assembled.
The landowner, Lewis Glaven, had arranged the shoot to introduce his son Will’s shy fiancée to country house living. Hope Meynell was lovely, but most unsuitable for Chalcot, and Lewis was no the only one who disapproved of the engagement.
On that crisp November day, as the shoot reached Belmost wood, tensions began to rise. The shooting party – local gentry, including a discarded girl friend of Will’s, and an upwardly mobile CID officer, Martin Tain – waited eagerly for the beaters to drive the pheasants out of the trees and over their shotguns. Spectators, including Hope , waitied with revulsion for the slaughter to begin. And then, as trespassing Animal Rights protesters tried to put a stop to the killing, an event occurred that would change forever the lives of those for whom the estate was home.
Martin Tait reported it as a tragic shooting accident. But when DCI Douglas Quantrill, head of Breckham Market divisional CID, took charge of the investigation, it became apparent that a murder had taken place.