It’s 1972, and while Elton John and Alice Cooper may be topping the charts, Inspector Alleyn’s latest case is set in that most gloriously retro environment: The country-house party. A Christmas party, as it happens, where Agatha Troy is enjoying the local holiday pageant and also painting the host’s portrait. The painting’s coming along fine, but the pageant goes a little pear-shaped when one of the players disappears. Could one of the party’s eccentric guests (are there any other kind?) have been involved? Or – perhaps more likely – could the finger of blame come to rest on one of the manor-house servants, each of whom happens to be a recent prison parolee? What luck! Inspector Alleyn is on hand to wrap up the questions into the perfect Christmas parcel.