When Dr Raymond Ferens moves to a practice at Milham in the Moor in north Devon, he and his wife are enchanted with the beautiful hill-top village lying so close to moor and sky. At first they see only its charm, but soon they begin to uncover its secrets – envy, hatred and malice. Everyone says that Sister Monica, warden of a children's home, is a saint – but is she? A few months after the Ferens' arrival her body is found drowned in the mill-race. Chief Inspector Macdonald faces one of his most difficult cases in a village determined not to betray its dark secrets to a stranger.