The unsolved murder of New England Professor Jackson Lawrence in the venerable Hendley Library draws the attention of Lawrence's replacement, untenured professor Jeremy Nichols, who seeks more specialized academic clues to solve the mystery and whose own life, past and present, is filled with complications, including his involvement with the unhappily married Elizabeth Ellertson and his estranged relationship with the mother of his young daughter.
The handsome and charismatic Lawrence, who was engaged in a love affair with a young employee of the Hendley Library, made a number of enemies over the past several years, including a present United States Congressman. Jeremy Nichols learns much about Lawrence from Professor Emeritus Fred Beauchamp, who once worked for national intelligence. Soon Nichols learns the existence of a hitherto unknown journal by Charles Dickens--now missing. Will the manuscript be recovered? Will Jeremy Nichols avoid those out to harm him and finally learn who killed Jackson Lawrence?