When Carla Constanza - the face of Brazil's leading cigarette brand is found strangled in the infamous Strangler's Wood, DCI Tom Barnaby and DS Gavin Troy not only find themselves investigating her murder, but three identical unsolved murders of innocent girls from eight years before.
When Barnaby meets the other inhabitants of Midsomer Worthy he discovers more than one potential suspect including ex DCI George Meakham, Leonard Pike the creepy village landlord with a sinister over-protective mother and John Merrill the Managing Director of Monarch Tobacco, who stands to lose a lot of money. Then there is the au pair who knows more about Carla's death than she is letting on. Events take a sinister turn when the au pair is found murdered by a lethal injection of liquid nicotine and Leonard Pike is discovered stabbed to death in the bath. Revelations from Carla's post-mortem; and the discovery of her doctor's body among the burnt remains of his clinic, Barnaby and Troy realise that time is running out.
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