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 . . .