The combination of no suicide note and plenty of alcohol make lead Det. Insp. Ian Preston agree that Adele Morrison’s drowning in the swimming pool of a seaside hotel must have been accidental despite Adele’s fight with boyfriend Brendan Underwood, who left her to take a midnight swim alone, and an obsessed husband, Professor Lawrence Morrison, who’d been fighting her divorce action. Two things happen to change Preston’s mind: Adele's half-sister, beautiful actress Sylvie Reynolds, arrives from Canada and she and Preston discover Adele was as shrewd in her personal relationships as she was in business. They learn that years ago, when Adele taught at a private girls' school, she and another teacher, her married lover James Ferguson, presided over a disastrous outing during which a schoolgirl died. Professor Morrison never forgot Adele's negligence and perfidy. Then Ferguson turns up drowned along with some of the white heather found in Adele’s hotel, and Preston reopens the investigation. Underwood tells Sylvie the sad story of his wife’s suicide, and she enlists cook/fortuneteller/drag-queen Kevin to investigate Ferguson’s restaurant, Le Pendu (The Hanged Man). Unaccountably, Kevin the tarot card reader misses the significance of the restaurant’s name, but seizes the opportunity to replace Ferguson in the restaurant partnership. Kevin’s adventures at the restaurant uncover the murderer, but not before nearly making him a third drowning victim.
Better at theatrical and boardinghouse eccentricities than police procedure. One wishes the workmanlike Armstrong (Dead in the Water, 1999, etc.) would try a less schematic approach.