Robbie Lewis attends a book launch for a fantasy novel penned by prodigious young research fellow Dorian Crane, with whose adoptive mother, Ginny, Robbie's boss Jean is trying to match-make him. Later that night a Czech hotel worker Marina is found murdered. Professor Deering, the uncle of Dorian's fianc?e and muse, Alice, confesses to having seen Marina on a foreign website and paid for her to come to Oxford, finding her work. However, as a supposed gay man, he is keen to hush up his sex life with her. Robbie believes that Marina was killed in mistake for Alice and then Dorian is also murdered, in order to preserve a secret well beyond Robbie's imagination.
Richard Scott, a talented but drug-taking, light-fingered actor, is stabbed during an alfresco student production of 'The Merchant of Venice'. The following night a cocky media graduate, known for her unkind reviews of student plays, is strangled. The play's ambitious director's "brilliant" thesis was actually written by her drop-out ex-boyfriend, and Scott knew this as he stole their computer. Plainly, so does the murderer. James Hathaway pursues a petty con man, and discovers that this is the man who killed Val Lewis in a hit-and-run. Should he tell Robbie and give him closure at last?
Steven Mullan, a former religious maniac who served time for running atheist writer Tom Rattenbury off the road, crippling Tom's daughter Jessica in the process, is murdered. Or rather his flatmate, who swapped identities with him to escape the wrath of his lover's husband, is. Then the real Steven Mullan is killed and Tom commits suicide, claiming he killed both lads. But Tom had an alibi and Jessica and Steven were closer than anybody guessed. Who has engineered the cover-up?
Thirty-five years after she supposedly drowned herself, rock star Esme Ford returns to Oxford to secretly re-establish her band Midnight Addiction with former members Richie, Mack and Franco. The secrecy extends to the band's reaction when an orphaned teenage boy is killed outside Richie's house. Then ex-roadie Bone and Richie's daughter's music tutor, who used to write the band's sleeve-notes, are also murdered. Midnight Addiction may well once have been the real thing but several people are definitely not what they first seem to be.