What could be more idyllic for Kate Fansler, Professor of Literature, than a summer in the country sorting through James Joyce's letters to his publisher? But with a rumbustious young nephew and two graduate students in residence, life is less peaceful than Kate might have hoped.
The idyll is further shattered when an unpleasant next-door neighbour is found murdered. Although the murder appears not to have the remotest connection to literature, even the very unliterary police inspector, Stratton, has a strong hunch that the killing is somehow linked to James Joyce.
Amateur sleuth Kate, finding herself and her house guests as prime suspects, sets out to solve the mystery. But the solution turns out to be almost as extraordinary as the murder itself.