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.
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.