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It began with a faceless, maggot-ridden corpse in a tranquil, hidden valley above the village of Swainshead. Or did it really begin with the unsolved murder in the same area over five years earlier? The villagers, especially those who frequent the White Rose, are annoyingly silent. Among the suspects are the Collier brothers, Stephen and Nicholas, from the wealthiest and most powerful family in Swainsdale; John Fletcher, a local farmer; Sam Greenock, owner of the village's best guest house; and his unhappy wife, Katie, who knows more than she realizes. When the Colliers use their influence to slow down the investigation and the others clam up, Inspector Banks heads for Toronto to track down the killer. He soon finds himself in a race against time as events rush towards the shocking conclusion.