The first victim was the unassuming County Archivist found stabbed in the second basement of White Plains District Council offices with only the lights of the PC on. Then the Financial Director of Redbourne Brewery is killed with a lump of rock whilst out on his morning jog.
For DI Winwood there is no obvious connection between the two. The third murder was that of the Rutherford Town Council Clerk found suffocated in the boot of her car in a field on the outskirts of town.
It seems to Winwood that everyone in town is holding on to a secret, even the Reverend Janice Paige to whom he turns to for advice. As enquiries widen it is clear that a supermarket planning application and a missing legal document as to ownership of land are at the heart of the investigation.
The reason for the murders continues to baffle Winwood who is unable to prevent a fourth death.
His new female constable takes a very individual approach to the case which could put her career at stake but offers Winwood his first real clue as to the identity of the suspect and the meaning of the Russian doll.