Business tycoon Sir John Balcombe is found murdered at his country house, Balcombe Castle, with no signs of a break-in. As a result, the dead man's wife and sons come under suspicion. Morse finds that the family is strangely untroubled, and several of his prime suspects have flawed characters and dark secrets - and then the Balcombe family suffers another killing.
Meanwhile, Morse has to cope with journalists who try to turn his own personality into a story - and he also suffers from an unhelpful Chief Superintendant, covering for the station's usual boss, who puts pressure on him to crack the case in a hurry.
In the end, though, Morse is vindicated and his various tormentors get their comeuppance.