The quiet, confident atmosphere of Bredgar Chambers School is shattered by the discovery of the body of one of its pupils in a country churchyard. Who murdered the brilliant boy and why? How did his body get from the school to the distant churchyard? Why had he lied about his exeat destination? Inspector Thomas Lynley and his partner, Barbara Havers, find their investigations hampered by the code of honour and loyalty that prevail in the old and distinguished public school. But they discover within the confines of that privileged community a culture of cruelty that stretches back across the generations.