This novel is set in the border country where Scots and English raided for centuries, committing atrocities that would be war crimes today and leaving the land reeking with blood and smoke. On the face of it, everything has changed. Nowadays cosy pubs sell real ale to discerning tourists and employ gourmet chefs, decrepit houses are restored by loving owners, fat geese graze village greens where quaint cottages are lush with clematis and roses.
This is the Garden of Eden and that is the appearance, but Moffat is from farming stock; she has lived for most of her life in wild and wilderness country and her antannae are charged in every isolated village. As Sherlock Holmes pointed out: "the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside".