The death of three-times married aristocrat Sir Freddy Butler brings Barnaby and Jones to the privileged surroundings of Haddington Hall. It looks like Freddy suffered a heart attack, but when his Will disappears and his lawyer is killed in an arson attack, the detectives close in on Freddy's family. What are they hiding - and where are the mysterious Haddington diamonds?
Rumours fly when eccentric aristocrat Sir Freddy Butler summons his wives past and present to Haddington Hall.
Surrounded by his current wife Lady Tara and ex-wives Lady Annabel and Lady Lucinda, Freddy hosts a lavish dinner. Could he have located the mysterious Haddington emeralds which once belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia? But just as Freddy is about to make an announcement, he collapses to the floor, dead.
Pathologist Dr Bullard tells DCI Barnaby it is natural causes, a heart attack brought on by Freddy's gluttonous lifestyle. Freddy's son and heir Richard takes over at the hall, together with his tarty wife Sandra, who is trying to assert herself. The cook Hatty and her daughter Jenny are not impressed.
Tara is convinced Freddy has been murdered, while Lucinda and her toyboy Simon Oliver stumble across an old desk with a secret drawer. Inside is a luggage label referring to a book of Robert Brooke poetry.
In the middle of the night, Tara's son Michael hears dreadful howling in the woods. He goes to investigate, terrified, but finds only Freddy's aging gardener Amos, who tells him it's foxes. Jenny tells DC Jones she doesn't know the identity of her father - but Freddy paid her way through university and set her up running a village café.
There's a break-in at the office of solicitor Henry York - Freddy's Will is stolen. Amos teaches a thrilled Michael how to shoot, while Freddy's simple brother Teddy injects his prize vegetables with growth hormone. In the middle of the night, an intruder locks Henry in his bedroom and sets his house on fire. The lawyer crashes out of an upstairs window in a ball of flames.
Investigating the murder, Barnaby finds tyre marks from a quad bike at the scene - there's one at Haddington but all the family seem to have alibis. Could Teddy's chemicals have anything to do with Freddy's death?
Lucinda and Simon decipher the poetry puzzle, as Sandra meets a nasty end. With most of the family hating her, Barnaby and Jones are not short of suspects. But can they get the Butler clan to spill the beans on each other - or find out the truth about Freddy and the Haddington diamonds?
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