In Warwickshire, Colonel Harris was out for a horseback ride, when he was shot and killed. His “last coherent thought was anger. Savage, wild, black fury ripped through him in one stark instant of realization before oblivion swept it all away. . . .” His reaction to the shotgun blast made him dig his spurs into his horse’s flanks. In London, a guy named Bowles finds out some dirt on Ian Rutledge. He wants to use it, but he doesn’t know how just yet.
The Warwickshire police ask for help from Scotland Yard because they’re not fully equipped to deal with the murder. Both the constabulary and Scotland Yard knew this was a touchy case because of who the victim was. Harris was a popular war hero. One of the suspects has ties to the royal family. Bowles sees his opportunity to get rid of Rutledge (Bowles is a jerk) and sends him off to investigate the murder. On the way, Rutledge’s “conscience” Hamish nags him about the directions and his driving. Maybe it is too soon for Rutledge to be back to work, after serving in the war and suffering from shell shock.
There are any number of suspects, people who stood to gain from the Colonel’s death – including his ward, the beautiful Lettice, who is engaged to the main suspect, who had been quarreling with the Colonel about the wedding. There’s also a local troublemaker, and the usual unconventional female. Poor Rutledge tries to untangle the mess while still staying sane. He finally puzzles it out, and goes on to solve crimes for quite a few more books.