Pagan revelry and morris dancing in the middle of a very cold winter set the scene for one of Ngaio Marsh's most fascinating murder mysteries.
When the pesky Anna Bunz arrives at Mardian to investigate the rare survival of folk-dancing still practised there, she quickly antagonizes the villagers. But Mrs Bunz is not the only source of friction - two of the other enthusiasts are also spoiling for a fight.
When the sword dancers' traditional mock beheading of the Winter Solstice becomes horribly real, Superintendent Roderick Alleyn finds himself faced with a case of great complexity and of gruesome proportions...
`The incomparable Ngaio Marsh.'
`Mrs Marsh's work has the hallmark of the master. She is at the top of her form. Definitely first-class plus.'
`The finest writer in the English language of the pure, classical puzzle whodunit. Among the crime queens, Ngaio Marsh stands out as an Empress.'
Dame Ngaio Marsh was born in New Zealand in 1895 and died in February 1982. She wrote over 30 detective novels and many of her stories have theatrical settings, for Ngaio Marsh's real passion was the theatre. She was both actress and producer and almost single-handedly revived the New Zealand public's interest in the theatre. It was for this work that the received what she called her `damery' in 1966.