Barnaby reluctantly accompanies Joyce on a spa weekend to upmarket Swavely Manor, a country house offering treatments to soothe the body and spirit. His birthday is approaching but the detective is anything but relaxed - as well as his mistrust of New Age treatments and therapies, Barnaby has something on his mind.


The atmosphere at the picturesque manor house is far from tranquil, too, as owner Phoebe Archbold has fallen out with her old friend and neighbour Miranda Bedford, a wannabe novelist. Miranda saved Swavely from ruin in the past, but now Phoebe's husband Luke wants to end her right of way over the land.


Highly-strung spa enthusiast Kitty Pottinger collapses when she finds the 'garden of contemplation' full of sheep and Phoebe blames Miranda's friend Carter Smith for stirring up trouble. As Barnaby is sent for a hot stones massage, Joyce tries out the floatation chamber - only to find Kitty's dead body floating beside her.


Jones arrives and Barnaby puts him in charge of the investigation. It appears that Kitty argued with her husband Kenny before taking tranquilizers, while Kenny fled in the night. Luke is angry - he hoped Kitty would rescue the spa from its latest financial crisis. And fitness trainer Julian has a black eye following a tussle with Carter.


Barnaby seeks refuge at the village pub where he learns Phoebe married Luke after the sudden death of her first husband. Carter reveals he is helping Miranda with her novel although his wife Janet - like many others - is convinced the book doesn't really exist.


Back at the spa, Luke is crushed to death by a training machine as he works out. Carter had threatened him and Barnaby is convinced there is more going on than the land feud. Bullard suggests both deaths could be murder, while spa guest Natasha Fox seems badly distressed at Luke's demise.


A therapist named Cloud reads Barnaby's aura - to his amazement she knows he is worried about dying at the same age his father was. He goes home to find Cully there.


The police search Miranda's house and find the completed novel in a safe. Then they discover a vital piece of the gym machine that crushed Luke in Carter's truck and a set of keys to the spa. Miranda claims they are being framed.


Natasha admits she is Luke's ex-wife - and she witnessed some strange events on the night of Kitty's death. Barnaby makes a gruesome discovery in his search for Kenny and the truth gradually emerges. With the killer apprehended, all Barnaby has to worry about is his birthday party ... and making a big decision about his future.