The twenty-third book to feature the classic crime-solving detective, Chief Inspector Wexford. The impossible has happened. Chief Inspector Reg Wexford has retired from the crime force. He and his wife, Dora, now divide their time between Kingsmarkham and a coachhouse in Hampstead, belonging to their actress daughter, Sheila. Wexford takes great pleasure in his books, but, for all the benefits of a more relaxed lifestyle, he misses being the hand of the law. But a chance meeting in a London street, with someone he had known briefly as a very young police constable, changes everything. Tom Ede is now a Detective Superintendent, and is very keen to recruit Wexford as an adviser on a mysterious murder case. The bodies of two women and a man have been discovered in the old coal hole of an attractive house in St John's Wood. None of the corpses carry identification. But the man's jacket pockets contain a string of pearls, a diamond and a sapphire necklace as well as other jewellery valued in the region of GBP40,000. To Wexford, this is definitely a case worth coming out of retirement for. He is intrigued and excited by the challenge, but unaware that this new investigative role will bring him into extreme physical danger...