Detective Joshua Penulf and his younger brother Perry move to a small island off the coast of England. A beautiful island with a back bone of green hills that separates the lush farmland from the marsh that covers one side of the island. The marsh is all but empty with only a solitary house left from what was once a row build to house workers, a dying chemical plant ready for closure and an R.A.F base, disused for almost twenty years.
Island life agrees with both Joshua and his brother and in the idyllic setting, what could make them want to leave, but then the deaths begin.
The old school master who lived in the loan house on the marsh is found, only his bones and feet remaining. Joshua quickly tries to track down the murderer but as more and more bodies, stripped of their flesh begin to pile up, it quickly becomes clear, there's more to this case than simple Island Madness.
Francis wandered down the dark road and passed the turn off for the chemical plant. The faint smell of methane drifted on the air and turned his stomach, he hated the smell, it always reminded him how far he had fallen. And the fall had been hard.
Kicking a stick across the cracked tarmac, he slipped and fell against a dry stone wall. The rough edges cutting into his outreached palm but the warm blood that slowly oozed down the creases made him pay no more attention to the wounds than if there was no blood at all.
“Damn council.” Francis slurred. “Damn, bloody island asses, think more of there precious stone walls than they damn well do about the fool hardy inhabitants.”
Francis wobbled on and so turned off the main road and down a dirt track to his house. His head was swaying and he was having trouble putting one foot in front of the other. It had been a long walk from the village, two long hours of hilly road until it finally came out into the marshes. The bottle of whiskey swung against his leg and Francis slammed a hand down on it to stop it moving around.
Fingering the film of liquid around the rim of the lid, he smiled. The landlord of the public house in Nymvale, was one of the nice one's, always letting Francis leave with a bottle of his favourite for his long trip home.
Pulling the bottle form it's place he clumsily unscrewed the cap, splashes of whisky spattered his coat, and drank. The hot liqueur poured down his throat. He enjoyed the warm sensation that spread over him, a feeling he could sink into and forget with.
The headlights of a car blinded him and the roar of the engine made him jump, the amber liquid spilled from the bottle and down his shirt and trousers. The car sped past with a beep and Francis heard the shouts of the young men inside.
“Woopsie Wallace!” They called again and again as the car vanished into the night.
“Bastard little upstarts!” Francis condemned. “Island scum. Never were worth spit, never will be worth spit.” And he spat, a great global of phlegm and whiskey. He felt anger rising in him, they would not have dared do that to him only a month ago. A month ago he had been respected, commanded respect from both the pupils and the parents. Now he was belittled and slandered. He hadn't done those things, he would never do those things.
The thought of it made him sick. “How could they think I would do such horrendous actions?” He asked himself again, as he had done time and time again. “A teacher for thirty years and never once, never.”
Turning, Francis started towards his house that stood alone on the western side of the island, the only house that stood in the marsh. It had once been the home of an eccentric hermit and it suited Francis' need. Miles away from the village surrounded by nothing and as long as he only looked out of the back or side windows, he would not even see the chemical plant.