The village of Aspern Tallow is being haunted, according to the villagers. Then a body is found in the graveyard, and Barnaby and Troy find themselves investigating the ghost.
Barnaby and Troy are in Badger's Drift again, this time to investigate the murder of an unpopular property developer called Richard Bayly who had been suffering from a brain tumour. Bayly had recently come up with plans to build a new housing estate in the sleepy village, despite determined local opposition, and he was killed with an Indian sword belonging to Stephen Wentworth, the local Vicar.
Another interesting factor is the recent arrival in the village of Simon Fletcher, a theatre director with unhappy childhood memories and perhaps an old grievance.
The body of Agnes Gray, a woman who loved only animals, is found in the river - but she did not drown. And then her cousin Esslyn Carmichael is tricked into killing himself on stage during an amateur production of the murder mystery Amadeus.
Barnaby has to get to grips with clues which include adultery, dramatic ambition, stolen religious art, and large donations to animal charities, before unmasking a killer who proves to be mad.
Meanwhile, love begins to blossom between Cully Barnaby and Nico Bentley, one of the cast of Amadeus...