A young London school-teacher, Polly, visits friends in a Devon village that is now the home of Mike Townley, a neighbour. Mike's sudden unexplained death on his return from working in China unfolds as murder, investigated by DI Marland.
The net of suspicion is wide as, driven by the belief that 'land is the ultimate security', Mike has initiated development plans in the village, also sparking local animosity.
In the seventeenth century the small north Devon hill-top town, Great Torrington, was the site of a turning-point battle in the Civil War.
Ellie, plucky daughter of a farmer, defies danger and travels by horse-back conveying secret messages to this nearby town. Ellie is assisting priests to escape the conflict between Roundheads and Cavaliers in their battle for supremacy over land, with skirmish and fatal consequences in her own village, Derscott.
This engrossing book captures interest for all who enjoy a good story and offers insights into life in the seventeenth century as well as nowadays in rural Devon, including issues about the use and value of land that are universal.