A homeless man is found caught in a leg-hold trap and bludgeoned to death. Soon-to-be-retired Supt. Pringle swiftly charges a local lout with the hug, much to the annoyance of a vacationing Barnaby. When Pringle is killed in a riding accident, police discover his horse was shot with a dart. Barnaby believes torn polaroids of an unidentified naked couple may hold the key to the murders.
Barnaby's favourite aunt, Alice Bly, enters a nursing home where residents believe the doctor assigned to the home is working with the home's manager to get them to change their wills. When two more deaths occur at the home, Barnaby and Troy investigate.
A local thief and womanizer is brutally killed with a pitchfork, and the residents of Midsomer Mallow fear the hug has blighted their chances to win the Perfect Village competition. As the judges, who include Barnaby's wife Joyce, arrive in Midsomer Mallow, high hopes for a blue ribbon are dashed when two of the judges are also killed.
Barnaby's daughter convinces him to let her actor boyfriend shadow DS Troy in preparation for a role in a detective show. Their first case involves the slashing of a 17th century painting in a museum where ghosts have been reported. Sandra finishes restoring the slashed portrait but is driven close to madness by messages from her late husband. Barnaby is determined to prove to her that they're a hoax.