Wessex is retired -- or would be, if murder and danger would only leave him alone. The impossible has happened. Chief Inspector Reg Wexford has retired. He and his wife now divide their time between Kingsmarkham and a coachhouse in Hampstead belonging to their actress daughter, Sheila. For all the benefits of a more relaxed way of life, Wexford misses being 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 difficult 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 carries 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 40,000. Wexford is intrigued and excited by the challenge -- until this new investigative role brings him into serious physical danger.