Landlady Hannah Altman is crushed to death by a giant Perspex box during a magic show by famous illusionist Gideon Latimer aimed at raising funds for St Cyprian's Church. Kate finds that cables to the box were deliberately sabotaged - it's murder. But Gideon, his wife Annabel and manager Theo Bainbridge didn't even know Hannah.
Evangelising curate Andrew Maplin tells vicar Magnus Soane that the tragedy is God's vengeance for the pagan traditions still held deep in Midsomer Oaks. Barnaby and Nelson fear Gideon was the real target, especially when Annabel reveals hate mail has been sent to Melmoth Hall, his newly-acquired country seat. That night a group of masked pagans hold a fire-lit ceremony.
Hannah's husband Luke tells police his wife had an affair with florist Rhodri Probert. At the pub, Nelson finds an envelope containing £2,000, casting doubt on Luke's claims that the business was struggling. Curate Andrew Maplin admits sending hate mail to Gideon but says he only wanted to put an end to the magic.
Andrew tries to perform an exorcism at Melmoth. The family together with Gideon's devoted mother Carole are angry. The next day Annabel finds Andrew stabbed to death by the pagan temple in Melmoth's grounds. His face is covered with oak leaves - the pagan Green Man symbol. Nearby is the grave of Sir Hugo Melmoth, who according to legend threw himself on a fire in an act of self-sacrifice.
Annabel seeks comfort from Theo, but Gabriel sees them kiss. Andrew's camcorder reveals footage of a pagan ceremony which ends abruptly when one of the pagans spots him and runs towards his camera - it's Luke. He's defiant, claiming the group were just celebrating the end of winter by burning a straw effigy. Gideon is rattled but vicar's wife Lorna Soane urges him to fulfil plans for another fundraising show. Theo asks Annabel to leave with him but Carole overhears.
Rhodri admits he is a pagan. He wanted to be high priest but Hannah threatened to tell his wife Ailsa about their affair unless he withdrew and voted for her. With Hannah dead, the priesthood will pass to Lorna, a descendent of Melmoth and secret pagan.
At the fundraiser, Gideon has his audience spellbound when he catches a speeding bullet in his teeth. But then Annabel is found dead. Carole confronts Theo about their relationship. Sarah discovers Sir Hugo was no hero - he was killed by villagers seeking justice for years of tyranny. And Nelson finds Luke is really Seth Farringdale, whose boyhood games with fireworks ended up killing a homeless man. Seth was convicted but was he acting alone or has someone escaped justice?
Barnaby and Nelson race to the pagan temple where Lorna is re-enacting the death of Sir Hugo. Gideon is put into a crate over a burning pyre. As firefighters douse the flames, another person is found in the crate - it's Luke and he's still alive. Barnaby realises the murders are all linked to Gideon's illusions. But who is staging the deathly tricks and why?
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