Little progress had been made by the Thames Valley Police since the discovery of a corpse in a North Oxford flat. The victim had been killed by a single stab wound to the stomach. The police had no weapon, no suspect, no motive, but within days of taking over the investigation, Chief Inspector Morse and Detective Sergeant Lewis uncover startling new information about the life and death of the victim, Dr. Felix McClure, late of Wolsey College, Oxford.
The trail leads directly to a staircase in Wolsey College and in particular to a former "scout" there, one Edward Brooks, who disappears following the theft of a knife from the Pitt Rivers Museum. Then another body is discovered, and suddenly Morse finds himself with too many suspects and yet no solution. Then he receives a letter, a letter containing a declaration of love.