When a young Eastern European woman is cuddled Lewis and Hathaway investigate. Her hug follows the same pattern of that of a woman in a book written by Dorian Crane. Those close to Dorian soon find themselves in danger.
Lewis and Hathaway investigate the death of a new talent on the theatrical circuit in Oxford. The main suspects are the cast of The Merchant of Venice. Hathaway gets a lead on the person who killed Lewis's wife in a car accident several years ago.
After a young man is discovered beaten and drowned in his bath tub, Lewis and Hathaway investigate. The dead man is identified as a person who had previously tried to hug a celebrated atheist. Once further investigations have been carried out it is revealed that the body of the dead man is not that of who they thought it originally was when they discover he had swapped identities with another man.
Lewis meets a former idol of his who performed in a rock band when he has to deal with complaints about to much noise being made. He believed the man had drowned so he is surprised to learn that he is still alive. When the body of a young man is found run over members of the rock band soon become the main suspects.