After her adventures in Murder on the Cliffs, young Daphne du Maurier travels to a remote island off the coast of Cornwall to visit the estate of Lord and Lady Trevalyan. Somner House, enchanting amidst lush exotic wilderness and only a moment's walk to the sea, beguiles Daphne, but just as looming winter storms begin to envelop the island, the Lord is found murdered while the Lady is found in the arms of a lover. Even Daphne with her torrid imagination could not have dreamed that she would become ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within the walls of Somner House—or that a handsome stranger would inspire her to plumb the depths of a great mystery.
Challis fails to make Daphne du Maurier an interesting lead in her lightweight second mystery featuring the young future author (after 2009's Murder on the Cliffs). Daphne's older sister, Angela, invites her along on a vacation to Somner House, located on an island off the coast of Cornwall that's isolated from the outside world for most of the winter. On the island, Daphne meets a host of characters straight from an Agatha Christie novel, one of whom, Lord Max Trevalyan, is soon found dead of severe head wounds. The many suspects include Trevalyan's widow, her lover, and the gardener, whose daughter gave birth to Max's son. A romantic subplot concerning Daphne's attraction to the murder victim's Darcyesque younger brother never comes to life. Some readers will have trouble with the author's clumsy prose (e.g., "A vague smile of vacuity passed her lips").