Gently and Bacchus investigate the kidnap of the adopted child of a middle-class couple, and suspect that the child's birth mother might be involved. Their investigations take them into a local Mother and Baby home, uncovering the societal pressure that forces single mothers to give up their children and the lengths to which the adoptive parents were prepared to go to secure a child.moreless
Barnaby attends the funeral of the owner of the Easterly Grange Hotel and hears that the hotel manager has gone missing. The will is read, and it seems the hotel has been divided between the missing manager and his beautiful wife, the hotel's chef and its accountant.
A dog finds the hotel manager's severed hand, and the others named in the will receive threatening notes. Then accidents start to happen to them all, including mushroom-poisoning, an apparently accidental shooting, a falling drinks cabinet and a sabotaged vehicle. Barnaby next learns that the missing hotel manager had in his possession a more recent will, which is also now missing....
Murder strikes at the heart of the University when Dr Felix McClure, a retired college don, is found stabbed to death.
Morse and Lewis suspect Ted Brooks, McClure's old 'scout' (or college servant), who left his job abruptly after one of McClure's pupils committed suicide. Morse discovers that McClure, the suicidal undergraduate, and his room-mate, Ashley Davies, were all in love with the same woman - who was Brooks's daughter.
Morse and Lewis add to their list of suspects when they question the unusually close relationship between Ted Brooks's wife Brenda and the woman she cleans house for, a schoolteacher called Julia Stevens. Julia seems to be protecting Brenda from her husband's abusive behavior - but when Ted is found dead, it seems she may be hiding another kind of secret.
Tildon Alreeuh, an illegal immigrant from Sagania, saves Brogan's life in a shooting incident, and Brogan learns that his saviour's son, Nillim, is being held by snuff fight promoter Coe Barner. With immigration officials breathing down their necks, the officers of Precinct 88 go undercover at one of Barner's bouts to rescue Nillim, but Brogan soon finds himself fighting for his life...moreless
Portugal, 1813 The Spanish town of Adrados has been captured by a horde of French, Spanish and British deserters, who have taken two English women hostage, Sarah Dubreton and Isabella Farthingdale. Captain Sharpe is ordered to deliver the women's ransom, much to the disgust of Sir Augustus Farthingdale. Sharpe and Harper enter the convent where the women are held and are confronted by two French officers. Sharpe learns that one of the officers is the husband of Sarah Dubreton and they are on the same mission. To Sharpe's dismay, he learns that Hakeswill is a leader of the renegades and has increased the ransom price, giving Sharpe five days to come up with the extra money, or the women will be raped. Nairn discovers that the French intend to invade Portugal from Adrados and decides to thwart the plan. Sharpe is promoted to major and given command of the 60th Rifles in order to secure the safety of the women and prevent the French from taking the town.moreless