For Inspector Scobie Malone, a dinner party at the Sydney estate of Sir Harry and Lady Phillipa Huxwood, the fabulously wealthy heads of a publishing empire, proves to be an evening charged with tension between the Huxwoods and their squabbling children and grandchildren. The Huxwoods' own personal slice of the Sydney skyline - the Chronicle - is up for sale, and the family peace - if it ever existed - is about to be shattered by murder. During the night, Sir Harry is shot dead in his own bed, and his blood could be on the hands of anyone with a stake in the Huxwood dynasty.
Malone finds himself stepping into a frayed and damaged family fabric, seeking the thread that will lead to the killer. His investigation begins with the opulent Malmaison House, where Lady Phillipa presides over the sprawling Huxwood family and staff - a veritable viper's nest, covered by the sweet scent of roses, blooming en masse in a garden to rival the Empress Josephine's. Malone uncovers the stuff of headlines: a forgotten love affair; the wealthy business elite versus an excriminal on the make; a family dogfight over potential fify-million-dollar handouts; and a silence that has lasted twenty-five years. Amid unwanted interference from higher-ups and the attention attracted by this high-profile case, Malone is under pressure to come up with the true story, once and for all. The accusing finger points in all directions - and the resolution reminds us that duty and blood alone do not make peace in families.
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