Chief Inspector Quantrill was a very sensible policeman. But Shakespeare was not on his beat and he was not sure who Ophelia was. His ignorance embarrassed him when Mary Gedge, the most brilliant young girl in Ashthorpe, was found dead in the river, apparently drowned in shallow water while gathering flowers on May Day morning.
Others were quick to see the resemblance, among them Mrs Bloomfield, head of the school where Mary had been a pupil before gaining admission-one of the first girls to do so-to King's College, Cambridge. Ophelia was a beautiful innocent who fell in love with the wrong man and positively invited him to humiliate and destroy her. But was this true of Mary? And if so, which of her several admirers had caused the tragedy?
Quantrill knows the people of Ashthorpe and of Breckham Market-the East Anglian district where he works-almost too well. We, too, get to know the locality as his investigation proceeds and Sheila Radley, taking inspiration from Hamlet, brings her characters vividly to life.