It was Big John Little, the village inebriate, who late one night stumbled about in the flower-beds beneath the bedroom window of Little Gidding’s hated postmistress, Mae Holliday, shaking his huge fist and bawling out to her that she was a mouldy old witch he wished were dead…
Prophetic words Big John was later to regret when Mae Holliday is found lying dead, murdered, in front of the altar in Gidding Cathedral’s Lady Chapel, staked through the chest with one of his withies.
Was Mae Holliday really a witch, a member of a coven meeting secretly in the derelict old brewery in the village?
And who was Mae Holliday, anyway? This was a question which even she had no answer for. Mae Holliday was a fiction; she didn’t exist; and it was to the clairvoyant, Edwina Charles, that the postmistress turned, in desperation, for help with unravelling her past. Mae Holliday had a deeply worrying reason for knowing who she really was, but there were strict conditions laid down by her when it came to a reading of the Tarot. Edwina Charles was made to promise that she would not look at the present and the future. It was the past that concerned Mae Holliday and only the past.
Looking back is never a good idea, and for Mae Holliday it proved to be fatal.
For both the police and the clairvoyant, the answer to the murder of Mae Holliday lay buried in a myriad of shared mistakes, one compounding another, until Edwina Charles finally discovered that it was the reel of old movie-film, which the police had found in the skirt pocket of the murder victim, that would finally unmask her killer. That and the Devil’s Knell.