Ethelred Tressider is a writer with problems. His latest novel is going nowhere, a mid-life crisis is looming and he's burdened by the literary agent he probably deserves: Elsie Thirkettle, who claims to enjoy neither the company of writers nor literature of any kind. And as if things weren't bad enough for Ethelred, his ex-wife, Geraldine, is reported missing when her Fiat is found deserted near Ethelred's Sussex home. The disappearance soon becomes a murder investigation and there is no shortage of suspects. Soon the nosy, chocolate-chomping Elsie has bullied Ethelred into embarking upon his own investigation, but as their enquiries proceed, she begins to suspect that her client's own alibi is not as solid as he claims.