Scotland Yard's Chief Supt. Tom Pollard is called in to help the locals solve the murder of Francis Peck, curator of Fairlynch, a stately home recently acquired by the Heritage Trust: the murder appears to have been incidental (accidental?) to the theft of a few near-worthless paintings being exhibited there. So Pollard finds himself chatting with the local artsy set--Fairlynch's former owner Katherine Ridley, successful painter/dealer Hugh Rossiter, dowagers and architects--and stumbles into some domestic frays as well: a Ridley family ne'er-do-well (thought dead) has returned with blackmail on his mind. However, it's not until Pollard recalls (in a hard-to-swallow coincidence) the experience of his friend Julian Strode in a remote Italian cathedral that the glimmer of motive appears; the case is then wrapped up with help from an obliging art expert. Complex, contrived, and quite, quite dull--only for loyal Lemarchand fans or those who dote on British country gentry.