The sleepy village of Martyr Warren is invaded by quarrelsome New Age travellers, some of whom fall out with Hector Bridges, a local magistrate. The police are well aware of the tensions, but matters come to a head when Hector is found shot dead. It quickly appears that he was feared by almost everyone in sight, including his own family. And there is more to the travellers than meets the eye - one of them is a former British army officer who fought alongside Hector in the Falklands War... Then (as so often happens to Barnaby and Troy) another dead body is found, this time that of an old man at the travellers' camp.
Meanwhile, Barnaby is not feeling in full fighting trim for murder investigations, as Joyce has put him on a strict diet to lose weight.
Troy is in the Midsomer Worthy cricket eleven for the annual match against Fletchers Cross, so he is on the spot when the wife of Robert Cavendish, the Team Captain and a big local landowner, is found bludgeoned to death with a cricket bat. As often happens, the death toll mounts before the killer can be unmasked. Why should the cricket team's scorer be stabbed to death with a Nazi dagger at the following match?
Cavendish, as a mine owner, may have been responsible for the 'accidental' deaths of two of his employees in years gone by. If someone is out for revenge, who is it?
Meanwhile, a protest march to maintain footpaths across Cavendish's land finds a foot-bridge has been sabotaged, and their leader takes a ducking...
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.