In the village of Midsomer Wellow, someone is killing off the bellringers of the parish church, in the week before a big bell-ringing competition. One young woman on the team is even shot dead in the churchyard on her wedding day.
Before he can crack the case, Barnaby has to understand the significance of an old killing in the same village in the year 1840, when the Midsomer Wellow Vicar of the day, the Reverend Jonathan Ebbrell, was murdered and thrown down a well by the bellringers of his church. So where are the Ebbrells now?
The Inkpen family has bought back its ancestral home, Inkpen Manor at Midsomer Deverell, and they plan to turn a village Memorial Garden on their land into a tea shop. This causes consternation in the village, and the Bennetts (who previously owned the manor and founded the Memorial Garden) lead the opposition. Then young Fliss Inkpen-Thomas is found dead in the Memorial Garden with her skull smashed in, and a few days later her mother Elspeth dies of poisoning, with the possibility of suicide firmly denied by her family and friends.
Barnaby investigates the deaths and finds older and more deep-seated motives for murder lurking in another ancient family.