The Second World War is drawing to a close. Nicholas Vaughan, released from the army after an accident, takes refuge in Devon - renting a thatched cottage in the beautiful countryside at Mallory Fitzjohn. Vaughan sets to work farming the land, rearing geese and renovating the cottage. Hard work and rural peace seem to make this a happy bachelor life.
On a nearby farm lives the bored, flirtatious June St Cyres, an exile from London while her husband is a Japanese POW. June's presence attracts fashionable visitors of dubious character, and threatens to spoil Vaughan's Prized seclusion.
When Little Thatch is destroyed in a blaze, all Vaughan's work goes up in smoke - and Inspector Macdonald is drafted in to uncover a motive for murder.