Cranky, yet lovable Agatha Raisin has never been one for holiday cheer, but her cozy little village of Carsely has always prided itself on its decadent Christmas festivities. But this year the bells will not be ringing "Silent Night" as Mr. John Sunday, an officer with the Health and Safety Board, has gradually begun to crack down what he sees as gross misconduct by each and every man, woman, and child in town. The village shop is told it can no longer have wooden shelves which have been there since the time of Queen Victoria 'in case someone is inflicted with a splinter.' The village school is ordered to leave lights on at night 'to prevent unauthorized intruders from tripping in the dark.' And children are warned to not play with 'counterfeit banknotes' after passing around toy money.