Wexford collapses from overwork so is put on a month's leave. Instead of resting though, he decides to go and visit Mike, who is seconded to London. Although he should be resting, Wexford's dreams have drawn him towards Mike's case of a young murdered girl left lying in a vault, and a strong connection to the baby adoption business.
Margaret Parsons, a fairly ordinary housewife who, with her water board official husband Ron, has recently moved to Kingsmarkham, is found murdered in a field. Mrs. Parsons led an extremely uneventful life, being a lay preacher, but Inspector Wexford is intrigued when he is looking through her belongings and fine a number of expensive antique books all inscribed 'From Doon to Minna'.Who is Doon?
Although Mr. Parsons is under the impression that he and his wife knew nobody in Kingsmarkham it turns out that Margaret had two school acquaintances in the town, Helen Missal and Fabia Quadrant, who are now both married to very wealthy men. Wexford assumes that one of these men is Doon, and was having an affair with the victim, but appearances can be deceptive...
When Wexford and Burden go on a holiday to France together with their wives, they meet an alluring English couple. Reg becomes transfixed by the wife, and is shocked when he gets back home to hear she has been kidnapped.