The story has a winter setting which added to my enjoyment of reading this novel during the dark cold winter days. The story is chock full of characters - all used as red herrings until Vera finally discovers the motives for the real murderer. Cleeves writes great "Vera" police procedurals. Although Vera and Joe are the main members of her team, Holly plays a major part in this novel, quite a foil to Vera. The novel could be read as a stand alone as the characters are all explanatory and readers don't need to be familiar with their back story. If you like the "Vera" stories on PBS TV, you'll enjoy this novel. In this novel, I pictured Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera in the TV series, as Vera was driving her land rover, having difficulty walking uphill wearing her wellingtons, floppy hat and long winter coat, or while sitting in her rustic kitchen while chatting with Joe, and then ending her sentences while interviewing suspects with the word, "pet". This novel was a most enjoyable read.