Why has John Everard, a gentle-mannered teacher of old-fashioned outlook surrendered an insurance policy and vanished? Is it really because, as he has told his wife, he fears a deterioration in his health and wants to go out ‘living it up’ in his own way? Have the tensions in a permissive sixth form college got him down? Did other women in his life really matter to him?
Or has he absconded with one of his pupils, prim little Susan Shires, who has also disappeared? Why has Sue dumped her bag and booked a double room at a sleazy London hotel?
Kenworthy, now retired from the Yard, is called in by Mrs Everard and finds himself exploring a world of some strange values. Meanwhile, reports on missing persons all over the country are being collated. Are Everard and Sue indulging in love-hate tantrums up an down the Norfolk coast? Or are they in the West Country, being turned away by suspicious landladies?
The mystery is not simplified when a girl’s body in Sue’s clothes is found in two different places. Kenworthy, working for a change as unofficial assistant to his former side-kick Shiner Wright, breaks this one by his familiar mixture of leaping imagination, bizarre deception – and by his instinct for the motives behind human eccentricities.