Lewis and Hathaway investigate the death of a maintenance engineer who's found shot in the head in the basement of the Bodleian Library. A search of the dead man's house reveals a stash of valuable volumes and a connection to gamblers' anonymous - and a forgery scam.
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While investigating the murder of RG Cole, a respected German history professor who was strangled at a friend's house, Lewis finds he went to bare-knuckle fighting matches. He also finds links to East Berlin, the Stasi and his old mentor and boss Morse.
There's a link between the suicide of student Will McEwan and the murder of Rev Francis King by a hot poker - The Garden. It's a pious society offering Christian answers to youngsters' questions. Hathaway was a university with Will and he and Lewis uncover secrets and deceit while more blood is spilled.
The alibi of Oswald Cooper, the prime suspect in a rape case, is supported by three pillars of the community. When Cooper is found garrotted, Lewis uncovers a web of deceit going back 20 years. It appears Cooper fixed up scams for his pals. But the case soon takes on a personal dimension for Lewis.