Deputy Assistant Commissioner Charlie Hillian is killed on the night of his retirement party. He's writing a book on his cases and the chapter on an unsolved murder of an eight-year-old girl 18 years ago has gone missing. There are several suspects but Morse battles with a colleague who was Hillian's protégé.
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When deacon Victoria Hazlett dies during an exam, a post-mortem reveals poison, but there's another substance that can't be identified. Victoria was in a group wanting women priests and suspicion falls on an anti-woman's group. Then there's a connection with a weight loss clinic.
Morse and Lewis investigate the murder of Harry Field, a larger than life mediocre artist whose many paintings feature the same mystery woman. As they dig deeper, they discover a link with art forgery. Meanwhile, Lewis considers trying for a promotion in Traffic Division.
Morse investigates the murder of Nicos, a Greek chef, but the Greek community closes ranks when Nicos's sister is killed and her child goes missing. Morse learns that Nicos had worked for a wheeler dealer who's hoping to open marine theme parks. There's also a connection with an expert on Greek ships.
The duo go to Australia to find a prime informant in the case against the Abingdon gang. They discover he's hard to pin down and fear members of his old gang are after him too. When his daughter is kidnapped, things heat up and Morse ends up being at loggerheads with the local cops.