One dark March evening Vera Howarth vanishes from her village. Despite search teams, TV appeals and a police investigation, she is never found, and her disappearance transmutes into a local ghost story.
That was 23 years ago. Now Reed Harper, the organizer of the village well dressing custom, goes missing, and the incident is linked by speculation and fear to Vera's.
Detective-Sergeant Brenna Taylor, her boss, Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham, and other members of their Murder Team from the Derbyshire Constabulary are called in to investigatewhen a handful of bones is discovered in the forest that hugs the village. During the search, Reed's body is found several feet from the skeletal remains. Vera? Were the two killed by the same person? If not, why are the remains lying so close together?
Things turn oddly suspicious whenBrenna learns that Christine Stevenson, another villager who was involved with Reed, committed suicide the previous year. Is there a tie to the long-vanished Vera as well? Not such a far-fetched question, as it is common knowledge that Reed is a womanizer. Love 'em and leave 'em should be tattooed on his arm¾a visible keepsake from his affairs.
Reed's not the only person who keeps something around reminding him of a former love. The village constable still has a lock of Vera's hair, never telling his wife of it or his previous engagement to Vera. Has he kept silent to avoid marriage problems, or because he had something to do with Vera's demise, steering the subsequent investigation in the wrong direction?
As the police team investigates they discover a tangle of jealousy, betrayal and lies, all involving Reed and Vera. And harking back to the ghost stories of the region.