On a still, foggy evening in Cambridge the sharp crack of a pistol shot disrupts the sleepy calm of the university, leaving a porter lying dead . . .
Ex-cop John Bewick is swiftly called in by the college authorities. His job is damage limitation: to get this dirty business cleared up with a minimum of fuss. His friend - and now rival - Chief Inspector Gio Jones has no such concerns: he's got a murder to solve and ruffling a few feathers is a favoured pastime.
But Bewick and Jones find that the campus is a hotbed of sexual jealousies and petty rivalries, and that those closeted in their ivory towers aren't about to give up their secrets without a fight. Then a second body is discovered and the investigation takes a surprising and chilling turn . . .