#1 book in the Chief Inspector Roper series -The pretty place is Cort Abbas, a small English village where the heirs of the local gentry have turned their ancestral home into an enclave for resident artists. The murder victim is a young woman of the town, an ambitious and spunky girl who found out she was pregnant one morning and was strangled that night. Detective Superintendent Roper, seen before in Seascape with Dead Figures, brings characteristic patience and good humor to this case, relying on both procedure and instinct as he sifts through the abundance of suspects. While townspeople point to the slow-witted man who found the body, other suspects include the victim's former boyfriend and the owner of the tavern where she worked as barmaid. The artists at Cort Place and even its owners, a disabled young man and his business-like sister, are also possibilities in Roper's experienced view. When the boyfriend's suicide seems to prove his guilt.
Superintendent Roper is sent to the tiny town of Cort Abbas when lovely, rebellious Vera Jackman is found strangled in a ditch. With a portfolio of modelling pictutres, more money than a barmaid should have, and a baby on the way, Vera had ruffled enough feathers in town to give Roper a difficult task.