Jane Honeywell worked at the police as a detective inspector at Manchester, but one day she was offered a better job as a detective chief inspector at Pilton, a small and peaceful town in the south-west of England. When she gets there, her first impression is that nothing ever happens, only some cars are stolen. However, one day she is informed that a female body had been found at Chittleham farm, so she manages to get there and she sees the body, that was found by Brian McMillman, a boy that helped the owner of the farm, Mervin Peck, during lambing time. Jane and Peter Fish (a detective inspector) talk with Brian and Mervin, who tells them that he was asleep when Brian discovered the body. He also says that he had never seen the victim before.
The investigation begins and everyone at the police office is very excited with the incident, because that kind of crimes were very rare at Pilton. The police discovers the identity of the victim. Her name was Rose and she was a teacher at the secondary school. She had recently joined a local animal rights group and she was having an affair with a married man, that was Jack Peck, Mervin's brother.
Jane and Pete visit Jack Peck and interview him, but he has an alibi: he had been working at the factory. Jane goes to the factory where Jack works and talks with Jo Keane, the Managing Director. She also borrows the videos from the security system of the factory, from the day that the murder occured.
Jane goes to Mervin's farm, where she discovers some really sick sheep, but she is found by Mervin, who points a gun at her. Then he tries to run away, but Jane follows him and arrests him. At the police station, Mervin is interviewed and he confesses that he is responsible for Rose's death. Then, he starts feeling sick and is taken to the hospital, where he is murdered a few days later. Jane talks with Dr. Fahid, who was Mervin's doctor at the hospital and he tells her that Mervin was infected with a very misterious desease.
Jane goes to Mervin's farm and discovers that he had received large amounts of money, and after that she discovers that he was beeing paid by Jack's company to let them test some chemicals on his sheep. Jane realizes that Jack Peck and Jo Keane had killed Mervin because he was threatening to tell the authorities that they were using his farm to test a very dangerous virus, the Rift Valey virus, that was transmited by bees.