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.
Morse investigates when the annual match of the Claret's old boys' cricket eleven is brought to an abrupt end by the sudden death of a team member - and it seems that cricket was the last thing on their minds.
A man suspected of being a multiple murderer is killed in prison while on remand awaiting trial, leaving the disappearance of a fifth woman unsolved. In the missing woman's effects was a postcard of a pre-Raphaelite painting, the background of which was painted in some woods near Oxford. Morse is assigned to a new murder investigation when what appears to be her body is found in the woods.moreless
Morse investigates the reported theft of erotic paintings belonging to Sir Julius Hanbury, a local baronet who is one of those standing for election as the new Master of Courtney College, Oxford. As well as the pictures, Sir Julius himself has also disappeared. Morse finds Sir Julius's dead body, and at first it looks like murder, but the new police pathologist, Dr Grayling Russell, believes he killed himself. Then there is another death which is undoubtedly a murder - but how is it connected with the late Sir Julius Hanbury?
Playboy architect Michael Gifford is found strangled in his car, and the only clues are a car-park ticket and his diary. Morse and Lewis uncover a love triangle involving the murdered man, and the list of suspects grows.
Meanwhile, Morse considers asking Grayling Russell for a date.
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.
The owner of a private hospital is found murdered in his car, after a series of anonymous threatening letters. Suspicion falls on a retired book-maker whose daughter suffered severe brain damage as a result of negligence during an operation some years before.
Morse spends a lot of effort in investigating the possibility that the dead man was criminally negligent, and concludes that he was. While he does his best to bring the killer to justice, Morse does not seem very troubled that at the end of the day he is unable to nail him.
Morse and Lewis hunt a violent rapist who has escaped from prison. They find themselves drawn into an under-world of satanists, and some of them seem more respectable than others.
The schoolgirl daughter of rich parents has been missing for six months. Morse believes she has been killed, and his investigations show curious goings on at the missing girl's school. But before Morse can unravel the mystery, he finds another.
Laura Poindexter, a rich American tourist, dies in the Randolph Hotel, Oxford, apparently from a heart attack, but Morse suspects foul play. Laura was due to return a historic jewel to an Oxford museum, and it has gone missing. Then Dr Kemp, who is a womanizing historian, dies of a fall, Lucy Downes is crushed to death in a telephone box, and Dr Kemp's widow appears to take a fatal overdose of Paracetomol.
Morse believes the deaths are all linked.
A nasty but very rich business man and a world-famous opera singer are in Oxford to receive honorary degrees from the Chancellor of the University. However, the ceremony has to be abandoned when a sniper opens fire on the procession of dignitaries. The singer is seriously wounded, but was she the intended target?