Ziggy and Gladys Crackjaw, in their late seventies, living in squalid isolation on the outskirts of Byland, a remote East Anglian village, suddenly disappear. Their pension books on the living room mantelpiece, indicative of an intended return, mystify the local police in the persons of Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Quantrill, Head of Breckham Market CID, and his cool and elegant sergeant, Hilary Lloyd. Do the smears of blood on the floor and iron fender in front of the fireplace indicate domestic violence? Janet Thacker, the brisk village sub-postmistress, who spent her youth in Byland but who now pretends to know nothing about the Crackjaws and their eight children, is Hilary Lloyd's first target for interrogation. The extraordinary story of a primitive yet aspiring rural childhood and adolescence emerges from the pages of a `stolen' manuscript to lead Quantrill and Lloyd to a solution to the mystery of the missing Crackjaws. In this lucidly written, heartfelt, dual narrative, Sheila Radley has transcended the boundaries of the traditional crime novel to produce a story of poignant, universal appeal.