December 1860. Headed for the morning shift at the Swindon Locomotive worksis an army of men pouring out of terraced houses built by the GWR, a miniaturetown and planned community that aims to provide for its employees from cradleto grave. Unfortunately, boiler smith Kenneth Rodman is headed for the gravesooner than he'd expected, or he will be once his missing head is found.Colbeck, the Railway Detective, finds his investigation into Rodman's murdermired in contradictions. Was the victim a short-tempered brawler, or acommitted Christian and chorister who aimed to better himself? On the trail ofRodman's enemy as the season starts to bite, Colbeck finds little festive cheer inthe twists and turns of this peculiar case.