Detective Inspector Montague Pluke of CID is England's most superstitious police officer. With crime at its lowest level in years, he decides to conduct a cold-case review. But there are no major unsolved crimes. So, alerted by his wife, Millicent, to a large number of recent deaths, his expert knowledge of superstitions and folklore lead him to justify reopening a case. Could an undetected mass murderer be operating in Crickledale?
Whilst serving as an aide to the CID, Detective Constable Rhea is kept busy in the seaside resort of Strensford as he endeavours to trace a stolen garden spade, the thief of a makeshift hearse with a corpse onboard, and the phantom knicker pincher of Harbour Rise. Throughout his early days, Nick, like many other detectives, nurses an ambition to arrest a murderer, but no opportunities come his way - until a killer on the run seeks refuge in Strensford and an elderly lady is found dead at home.
During his final days at Aidensfield, Nick has much to consider. There are duties to complete as he struggles to balance his family's needs against the demands of the police service. Nick is challenged to solve a centuries-old Aidensfield murder mystery but is also expected to trace a coal thief before he burns the evidence. And what is Claude Jeremiah Greengrass up to? Intense pressure comes to Nick and his family because they must find a suitable house before he assumes his new responsibilities.
When a woman confesses to Father Will, one of the monk-constables at Maddleskirk Abbey, that she has committed murder, he can do nothing but absolve her from her sin. The seal of confession is absolute. When a body is found in the nearby woodland, his moral dilemma grows. Detective Chief Superintendent "Nabber" Napier and his team have a murder to solve, but monks sworn by oath to silence are hardly the ideal candidates for questioning....
After Constable Nick of Aidensfield's retirement, he helped create a small private police force of monk-constables serving Maddleskirk Abbey and its adjoining college. The body of an unknown man is discovered in the crypt and Nick and DCS “Nabber” Napier welcome the assistance of the monkstables, as they have become known, as their knowledge proves invaluable.
As Constable Nick awaits news of his future, he reminisces about times gone by in Aidensfield and recalls the variety of fairs he has attended; mop fairs, fun fairs, Scarborough Fair and even an old-fashioned fayre have all formed part of the history on his patch. The arrival of a noisy fun fair sparked off a hunt for a missing schoolgirl, thought to have run away with a fairground worker....
When Constable Nick leads the long-established procession of villagers around Aidensfield's ancient parish extremities, he realises his duty as a rural bobby comprises lots of boundaries over which he should not cross. Nonetheless he must occasionally ignore such restrictions to fulfill his role as village constable satisfactorily. Far beyond the call of duty are his efforts to get a bride to the church on time and the occasion he finds himself defending a youth charged with a public order offence.
"Delightful story telling"
Constable Nick continues to deal with the diverse incidents that arise in Aidensfield. There's the family who are locked out of their home and the burglar who enters isolated farms to leave only a note saying he could have stolen everything. Claude Jeremiah Greengrass reports the theft of two tons of door knockers, and the family of a drowned man refuses to take responsibility for burying him.
Occasionally, Constable Nick leaves his blissful beat at Aidensfield to assist his hard-pressed colleagues in busier places. For this reason, he finds himself on patrol in the seaside resort of Strensford. When a message in a bottle washes up on the beach suggesting that a girl is being held hostage, Nick must urgently find where the bottle entered the sea. He searches for teenage runaways among the boarding houses of Strensford and discovers a very clever thief.