A goodhearted priest and scholar, a professor with a passion for the darker side of medieval psychology, a defrocked monk, and a rich young businessman who inherits some troublesome paintings are all helplessly beguiled by the same coed. The story is set in motion by the death of eccentric art patron and collector Francis Cornish. Hollier, McVarish, and Darcourt are the executors of Cornish's complicated will, which includes material that Hollier wants for his studies. The deceased's nephew Arthur Cornish, stands to inherit the fortune. Davies weaves together the destinies of this remarkable cast of characters, creating a wise and witty portrait of love, murder, and scholarship at a modern university.