Chief Inspector Reg Wexford has retired. He and his wife, Dora, now divide their time between Kingsmarkham and a coachhouse in Hampstead, belonging to their actress daughter, Sheila. However, a chance meeting in a London street changes everything. Tom Ede is now a Detective Superintendent, and is very keen to recruit Wexford as an advisor 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.