John Bonetti, a violent criminal, escapes from a prison van during a routine transfer and re-commences his career as a drugs racketeer. Wycliffe is convinced that Jane Hardy, a seemingly respectable artist and volunteer prison visitor, has helped Bonetti because she has fallen in love with him. How can he prove it?
When Alex Keir reports the disappearance of his wife Alison to the police, Wycliffe is not entirely convinced that he is genuine. However, a ransom note goes some way towards changing his mind and then Mrs. Keir is found dead, smelling of drink, in a car crash. Was it murder?
David and Angela Miller are shocked to find the corpse of Ezra, a local villain, nailed to the back door of their holiday home. Suspicion falls on another local boy Gary Penhale, whose family once lived in the Millers' house and has been sending them peculiar threatening notes. Overly helpful Colin Drake, who has the hots for Lucy Lane, also contributes damning evidence against Penhale. But the knowledge that Angela was the recent victim of a hit-and-run, and that she is the moneyed half of the couple, whilst her husband's business is floundering, causes Wycliffe to ...
When fishermen discover the rotting corpse of a shotgun victim, Edwina Coryn tells Wycliffe she thinks it could be that of her husband, missing for a month. However Fiona Jay claims that her mentally unstable spouse, who has also gone missing, could be the dead person. Both women had financial problems because of their partners. Both women claim ignorance as to their husbands' fates. Which one is lying?
Reclusive old farmer George Totts goes missing after his house is torched, as does a young mystery man who rang the emergency services. He turns out to be Stephen Ling, estranged son of the local vet, whose surgery is also set alight after a theft. The boy's hand is burnt and Wycliffe surmises that he is hiding old George. Certainly both he - and neighbouring farmer Mrs. Prentice - have something to hide.
Schoolgirl Ruth Penrose's body is found locked in a cupboard in a science lab by the caretaker, whose son Danny was seemingly her only friend. He goes missing after Ruth's twin Sheena has claimed he is the killer. It is apparent there was no love lost between the sisters, but would it extend to murder?
Agnes Currow scares off robbers trying to steal a skull from an archaeological dig on her land but the skeleton is under thirty years old, leading Wycliffe to the aristocratic Rawle family desperate to maintain their lineage in the face of a youthful indiscretion by child-like daughter Tilly.
Unconscious surfer Anne Carter is washed up on a beach but her injuries and theft of her belongings disprove an accident. Devoted ex-boyfriend John Corliston, prone to black-outs due to medication, confesses that he may have sub-consciously harmed her but the heroin secreted in her surf board lead Wycliffe down another path involving her employer. When Anne awakes from her coma he is proved right but Lucy and her fiance split after Anne's story is leaked to the local paper.