When Detective Charlie Peace attains the rank of inspector, he decides to relocate to the sleepy town of Slepton Edge, along with his pregnant wife, Felicity, and daughter, Carola. His dream of moving, however, can only become reality with the financial assistance of his stubborn father-in-law, Rupert Coggenhoe, a mid-selling novelist and the district’s most popular widower. Unfortunately for Charlie, Rupert agrees to provide the money but on the strict condition that he moves in with them, or to a house nearby. With a heavy heart, Charlie accepts the offer and purchases two neighbouring houses, hoping that the cosy village community will warm his somewhat frosty family.
However, a short time after arriving, whilst taking a walk in the neighbourhood, Charlie and Felicity encounter a group of children chanting and jeering outside a home. Strangely, the residents are a retired elderly couple who have just recently moved to Slepton Edge and cannot explain the children’s reactions. Stranger still, the children are well organised, and the basis of some of their chants are lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. When a mysterious death disturbs the village calm, the network of neighbourhood gossip emerges as both Charlie’s greatest ally and the biggest obstacle in his path to the truth.