This novel takes us through the lives of a group of damaged people living in a pleasant and seemingly tranquil Austrian village. It’s a village where nothing dramatic occurs, until one Christmas… It’s the Christmas holiday, the presents have been opened, and a six-year-old girl is drinking cocoa and playing Ludo with her grandfather when the doorbell rings. Her grandfather goes to the door, talks to someone there, gets his coat, and goes out. When her grandfather doesn't come back, the little girl puts on her new green quilted jacket with a squirrel on it and goes out to find him. She follows some footprints and finds her grandfather's body on the ramp that leads to their barn. There is no doubt it is his body - the clothes are his - but his head has been crushed to a bloody pulp. The little girl goes home and says nothing for the next few days. However, the body is discovered the morning after the murder, and detective superintendent Ludwig Kovacs – a middle-aged divorcé who loves gazing at the stars, has a daughter he can't communicate with and is beginning a new relationship with a local woman - has to solve this case and the spate of animal killings - chickens, ducks, hamsters and 16 hives' worth of bees - which follow. On a basic level, this novel is about a horrific crime and the investigation which follows. But it's really about far more than this. It's about harming children through trauma, violence and cruelty, and it’s about the pain that parents and elders can cause. Hochgatterer pulls back the veil of normality and reveals the part of life going on beneath the surface.