It's New Year's Eve in the quiet village of Lesser Swinfold. Sam Jones - sculptor and involuntary sleuth - and her boyfriend, Hugo, have come to celebrate with her best friend, Tom, who has taken a job there as a primary-school teacher in the hope of meeting plenty of available and sex-hungry single mothers.
Unfortunately, Hugo loathes the countryside, Tom has fallen in love with a single mother who is less interested in him than she would be in a frontal lobotomy, and Sam is flirting with a twenty-two-year-old with the face of a fallen angel.
So the discovery of a dead body tied to the village Christmas tree, stabbed forty times with a Swiss Army knife, is an unwelcome complication, especially when Tom becomes the principal suspect. Distracted by the appalling state of her love-life, Sam's not in the best shape for tracking down the murderer before the local police haul Tom off to jail. And will Hugo ever talk to her again?