Morse investigates the theft of Sir Julius Hanbury's erotic paintings then finds his dead body. He was bitter rivals in an election as Master at one of the colleges. When a friend of the au pair is killed in a car accident, Morse concludes that that he too was murdered and uncovers a web of jealousy, revenge and greed.
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An old mate of Morse is attending an old boys cricket match and wants to speak to the inspector but dies before he can do so. It looks like suicide but Morse has his doubts. Lewis goes undercover and joins the team and learns one couple may not be who they claim. Then there's a second murder.
A decapitated body is found in the canal and a college Master asks Morse to help find the Deputy Master. The Deputy is found battered to death in his London flat but the body in the canal was wearing one of his suits. It's concluded the headless body was a senior civil servant. Then there's a third death.
Playboy architect Michael Gifford is found strangled in his car in a multi-storey car park. There are several suspects including Brian Pierce who was swindling the company, Rosemary Henderson with whom he was having an affair and her husband who's dying. Morse uncovers a clever deception.