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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?
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.
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.