The reclusive lives of elderly eccentrics William and Mary Bingham comes under police scrutiny when a social services investigator is murdered. DCI Barnaby and DS Jones must unearth generations of family secrets and decipher astronomical charts to find the killer.
When he tries to see William and Mary Bingham, county social services officer Gerry Dawkins is promptly thrown off the property by the Bingham's daughter Selena and her husband Eddie Stanton. The same day, he visits a local artists' colony where he asks the residents to register with the local authority. They welcome him by gently tossing him in a nearby duck pond. The fastidious Dawkins complains to the police and, as a result, Barnaby and Jones visit both the artists' colony and the Binghams. They have a murder to investigate when, two days later, Dawkins is found floating face down in the river. After learning a good deal of village gossip, Barnaby looks for the medical report into the death of Robin and Jennifer Bingham over thirty years ago. He finds there is no autopsy report on Jennifer as her body was never found. He believes she is still alive, but there will be another death before he ties it all together.
- Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby
- Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones
- Barry Jackson as Dr. George Bullard
- Fiona Dolman as Sarah Barnaby
- Edward Fox as William Bingham
- Phyllida Law as Mary Bingham
- Neil Pearson as Eddie Stanton
- Beth Goddard as Selina Stanton
- Lucy Briggs-Owen as Verity Stanton
- Haydn Gwynne as Maggie Viviani
- Julian Ovenden as Ben Viviani
- Nick Brimble as Adam Grace
- Jeff Rawle as Gerry Dawkins
- Simon Dutton as Laurence Fletcher
- Abigail McKern as Josie Parker
- John Quentin as Doctor Frost
- Laura Rogers as Jane Morris
- Ifan Meredith as Dave Taylor
- Sue Vincent as Matron Lynch
- Helen Steinway Bailey as Jennifer Bingham (as Helen Steinway-Bailey)
- Arran Topham as Robin Bingham
- Nick Thomas-Webster as CID Officer (uncredited)
- First appearance of Sarah Barnaby.
- Jennifer Bingham did survive the car crash into the river and was rescued by Adam Grace. She changed her name to Maggie Viviani and gave birth to a son named Ben.