The Inkpen-Thomas family, owners of Inkpen Manor in Midsomer Deverell, announce that their memorial garden will no longer be open to the public. The villagers are furious, however, are any of them angry enough to hug? When members of the Inkpen family are cuddled, closure of the garden looks like a possible motive. However Barnaby and Troy uncover many family secrets during the course of their investigations.
When Gregory Chambers, the manager of the Easterly Grange Hotel, fails to turn up to the owner's funeral the local villagers are concerned. When Gregory fails to turn to to perform the rather unconventional Punch and Judy show, the villagers know that something is seriously wrong. A search of the local woods, where Gregory spent much of his time collecting mushrooms, finds a severad hand belonging to the missing man and it is not long before Barnaby and Troy are investigating a whole series of killings and attempted murders.
The body of criminal Ronnie Stokes is found in the middle of a crop circle in Midsomer Parva with his hands burnt, puncture wounds in his back and a chunck of his hair missing. Lloyd Kirby, the local Ufologist, believes that it is the work of extra terrestrials, however Barnaby and Troy are not convinced by his theory. When the body of a second criminal is found in similar circumstances the detectives set out to find what links the murders and who could be perpetrating the crimes.
An Irish stranger vanishes after being knocked down by Dr. Burgess on his way home from an evening's drinking. Barnaby discovers the visitor to be Sean O'Connell, a disgraced vet turned horse whisperer, then his search brings him face to face with an old adversary Melvyn Stockard. Stockard's daughter is about to be married, however, when the body of the best man's father is found in the well the wedding looks in jeopardy. It is no secret that Stockard was opposed to the marriage but would he hug to stop it going ahead?
Postman Dave Cutler is cuddled on his early morning rounds in the tiny hamlet of Goodman's Land. The brutal killing rocks the community where WPC Jay Nash is more used to dealing with traffic cones than slashed throats. With WPC Nash's help, Barnaby and Troy discover that the postman offered more than just a postal service to the female villagers and that they are several jealous husbands or jilted lovers who might have wanted him dead. When a woman's body is found on the village green with the same horrific injuries, the motive doesn't look quite so straightforward.
Death threats against the daughter of the manor, Melissa Townsend, bring Barnaby and Sergeant Troy to the affluent village of Midsomer Malham. Melissa is blamed by some for causing the death of a local poacher. District nurse Sally Rickworth, is found in a confused state at the wheel of her crushed car, on the same day that a quantity of barbiturates and syringes are discovered stolen from the veterinary surgery. Later that day the detectives find Melissa dead, with a syringe in her stomack. As Barnaby and Troy investigate they uncover seedy goings on in the village.