A successful theatrical director, Simon Fletcher, arrives in Badger's Drift, his head filled with disturbing childhood memories. Shortly after his arrival, Richard Bayly, a wealthy property developer is brutally murdered. Bayly, who had recently been diagnosed as having a brain tumour, was planning to redevelop a local estate in the village, much to the anger of the residents. Barnaby and Troy are called to investigate.
The beautiful young Brazilian, Carla Constanza is the face of 'Carla' brand cigarettes, a popular brand of South American cigarettes in which Monarch Tobacco, a company based in Midsomer Worthy, has a significant stake. When the body of a young Brazilian woman is found in Raven's Wood, strangled with a striped neck tie, Barnaby and Troy are called in to solve the crime.
The village of Fletcher's Cross is astounded when a rich businessman's wife is found bludgeoned to death by a cricket bat. Whilst the victim had no apparent enemies, her husband, Robert Cavendish, was hated by all and sundry. Robert's arch enemy Ian Frasier, who worked for Cavendish until a quarry explosion killed his partner, Cavendish's son Stephen, who despised his father, Zelda, the sprightly, sly spinster who abhorred Cavendish because of his plan to fence off footpaths crossing his land. All had reasons for wishing harm on Robert, but why would anyone kill his wife? Barnaby and Troy set out to uncover the truth.
Barnaby and Troy are called in to help keep the peace in the village of Martyr Warren when, to the extreme anger of Falklands War veteran Major Hector Bridges, two rival clans of travellers arrive. The caravans keep coming and then on the afternoon of a pony chariot race, organised by the travellers, Major Hector is shot dead. Barnaby is convinced that there must be a link between a certain traveller's arrival and Hector's murder and begins to investigate Hector's past.