Set in 1953 in Lydmouth, DEATH'S OWN DOOR opens with the discovery of an apparent suicide. Rufus Moorcroft buried his wife many years previous, so it is unusual according to Detective Inspector Richard Thornhill that he would resolve to kill himself so much later.
Unlike the other Lydmouth mysteries, this one focuses on Thornhill's wife Edith and her past connection to the deceased. At the funeral, Edith remeets acquaintances from the pre-war years and has flashbacks to what she had once believed was an idyllic time in her life. Then she was convinced by the charismatic Hugh (Oxford-educated, playwrighting son) to star alongside him in a local production. Edith believed she'd been in love with Hugh and was devastated by his accidental death. He had gone to meet his father at the train and was instead crushed on the tracks. When his father saw the bits and pieces of what was clearly his only son, he had a heart attack and died en route to hospital.
Rufus's nephew Jack Graig, a former friend of Edith's, resurfaces and it's through him that she discovers the truths about the past and the present and is able to help her philandering husband to solve the crime.
The Thornhill children are conveniently away for most of the story, so Edith is free to indulge in her whims and to figure out whether or not to believe the town rumours about her husband's affair with the bright and beautiful journalist Jill Francis.