Father Tom Christmas moves to the picturesque English hamlet of Thornford Regis to become its new vicar and to seek a peaceful haven.
But inside the empty village hall, the huge Japanese o-daiko drum that's featured in the May Fayre festivities has been viciously sliced open--and curled up inside is the bludgeoned body of Sybella Parry, the daughter of the choir director.
Realizing this village is not the refuge he'd hoped for, Father Tom comes to a disturbing conclusion: Sybella's killer must be one of his parishioners. No one is above suspicion--not Sebastian John, the deeply reserved verger, nor Mitsuko Drewe, a local artist, nor Colonel Northmore, survivor of a World War II prison camp.
And over all hangs the long-unsolved mystery of a sudden disappearance, one that brought Father Tom to this picture-perfect place to live--or die.