In Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Jonathan Ashley is struck by a car and left to
die at the side of the road. He survives long enough to
communicate a warning of danger to his daughter Bryony, and a few
cryptic remarks about a brook, a map, and a cat on the pavement to his
friend, Walther Gothard.
Bryony Ashley returns home to Ashley Court determined to understand her
father’s dying messages. The Court is a large, ancient house
surrounded by a moat and boasting a garden maze and a large debt.
Since the house is open to public tours and let out to wealthy
Americans, Bryony lives in the estate cottage. Nearby, Rob
Granger and Mr. and Mrs. Henderson occupy the farm cottages, and Bryony
soon falls back into the gentle routine of life at Ashley Court.
As Bryony tries to solve the puzzles left by her father’s dying words,
she discovers that valuable items are missing from the house.
Were they stolen by members of the public or by one of her twin
cousins, Emory and James?
The constant mystery of Bryony’s life is the identity of her lover, a
man with whom she has been able to communicate telepathically for many
years but who has never made himself known. Bryony knows only
that the man is one of her cousins, but is puzzled that she is not
particularly attracted to James, Emory, or the absent Francis.
Bryony discovers the answer to that mystery only shortly before
uncovering the identity of the man who killed her father. The
connection with her lover turns out to be the key to saving her own
The tale of Bryony Ashley’s romance is brilliantly interwoven with that
of an earlier and less creditable Ashley, whose romance did not end so
well. The explanation of the death of Bryony’s father is as
tragic as the wicked Nicholas Ashley’s end, and the connection between
them wholly surprising.