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ently and Bacchus investigate when elderly Alfred Peachment is found murdered in the grounds of the large house where he lived alone, formerly a children's home which he superintended but now closed for several years. The house was being sold, against his wishes, by a committee headed by his ex-wife and her brother, the local doctor, to the seemingly callous property developer Cora Davidson. Harry, Alfred's mute, simple-minded gardener, is the chief suspect and he attacks Bacchus. Only overly helpful local copper Blacksmith seems able to communicate with the boy, causing Bacchus to resent him. A discussion with an old flame leads Gently to suspect that Peachment may have been a paedophile, abusing children in his care, and that any of the suspects may be acting alone or as a group of avengers, to punish him for past misdeeds.

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