Early on in this book it is established that a murder has taken place as well as the identity of the murderer. It is not until almost the very end (and I do mean literally the very end) that the actual event and victim are revealed. This is classic Barbara Vine style and I love it.
Elizabeth, who lives in constant fear that she will develop a hereditary disease, moves in with her aunt Cosette who is recently widowed. The house she later moves into known as "The House of Stairs" has a long winding staircase and very odd upstairs windows which reach to the floor, only the house has no balconies. Elizabeth's aunt Cosette's generous nature becomes well known and eventually the house becomes similar to a boarding house although no one pays any rent or does any chores. Cosette, seeking to relive her youth, appears to be oblivious that she is being taken advantage of and believes that she has found true love at last.