A man's body is found beaten and bruised under an abandoned Yorkshire railway bridge. The first police on scene rule it a suicide, but are unsure when they find 5,000 pounds in the victims' pocket. DCI Alan Banks is called in and after further inspection the man is found to be a former professor who was fired due to a sketchy sex scandal.
Inspector Banks and detective Annie Cabot follow the leads which lead to Lady Chalmers, a former Marxist and now famous author and member of an aristocratic and politically connected family. Banks and Cabot find out that the victim and Lady Chalmers were once former students and activists together at University.