Two more bizarre murders land on Barnaby's lap, but the discovery of an old school photograph and the grave of an eight-year-old indicates to the Chief Inspector that he should shift his focus away from the redevelopment plans and dig deeper into a dark past.
The village of Fletcher's cross is astounded when a rich businessman's wife is found bludgeoned to death by a cricket bat. Whilst the victim had no apparent enemies, her husband, Robert Cavendish, was hated by all and sundry. Robert's arch enemy Frasier, who worked for Cavendish until a quarry explosion killed his partner, Cavendish's son Steven, who dispised his father, Zelda, the sprightly, sly spinster who abhorred Cavendish because of his plan to fence off footpaths crossing his land. All had reasons for wishing harm on Robert, but why would anyone hug his wife? Barnaby and Sergeant Troy set out to uncover the truth.
Barnaby and Troy are called in to help keep the peace in the village of Martyr Warren when, to the extreme anger of Falklands veteran Major Hector Bridges. two rival clans of travellers arrive. The caravans keep coming and then, on the afternoon of a pony chariot race organised by the travellers, Major Hector is shot dead. Barnaby is convinced that there must be a link between a certain traveller's arrival and Hector's hug and begins to investigate Hector's past.