In a Victorian mansion-turned-hotel on the Welsh Border, Ben Foley, a redundant TV drama producer, hosts unprofitable murder mystery weekends and nurtures his dream - to show beyond all doubt that this hotel is the house on which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his famous Baskerville Hall. It's a local tradition that the origins of The Hound of the Baskervilles lie not on Dartmoor but in the Herefordshire legend of a black dog foreshadowing death. Young Jane Watkins, whose first weekend job is at the Stanner Hall Hotel, is intrigued. But Jane's mother, the Revd Merrily Watkins, Deliverance Consultant to the Diocese of Hereford, is unhappy when she learns how Ben Foley proposes to try to prove his theory.
As the days shorten and the weather worsens, Foley's dabbling uncovers more than he can handle. For the history of Stanner Hall is linked not only to the Victorian fascination with spiritualism and the legacy of a terrifying medieval exorcism but with a chain of death that is far from fictional.