Willows, waterlilies, gliding sailboats . . . the Norfolk Broads in summer seem the perfect place for novelist Stella Rushton to recover her equilibrium after being agonisingly and humiliatingly jilted. An aquaintance, the elegant, musical-comedy writer Simon, who has a house full of visiting theatre folk, lends Stella his riverside cottage and a boat; but it is Keith, one of Simon's house-guests, who best restores Stella's shattered pride.
Keith, young, vulnerable and awkward, falls instantly in love with Stella, watching her with tongue-tied yearnings as their boat skims up the sunlit Broad, and swimming alone down the dark waters to catch a glimpse of her at midnight. Stella remains cool and amused, but Keith's uncontrollable passion is a balm to her wounded heart.
Her detachment, however, is brought to an appaling end when a tragedy occurs on the Broad. It is compounded by the realisation soon afterwards that what happened was not a accident.
As Stella, horrified, comes reluctantly to suspect the one person she likes, she has no one to turn to for advice but the big, quiet, pipe smoking man who sits fishing on a houseboat moored nearby. Chief Superintendent George Gently, though on holiday and incognito, finds once again that crime seeks him out . . .
Alan Hunter was born in Hoveton, Norfolk in 1922. He left school at the age of 14 to work on his father's farm, spending his spare time sailing on the Norfolk Broads and writing nature notes for the Eastern Evening News. He also wrote poetry, some of which was published while he was in the RAF during World War II. By 1950, he was running his own book shop in Norwich and in 1955, he wrote the first of 45 George Gently novels. He died in 2005 aged 82.