Janet Creswell, while struggling to come to terms with her husband's sudden death, received a letter and a visit from a man named Richard Medley. A former university professor, he had been a pupil at Brantwood, a boys' preparatory school in Sussex, where, for one term in 1944, she had been matron. Their meeting brings back many memories to her, but also raises some doubts. Was the headmaster, Edward Blackstone, with his maltreatment of his daughter and the boys, merely an eccentric, or was he deeply disturbed, mad, or even being poisoned? And had his death by drowning in the swimming pool been an accident, or had he been murdered? What starts as simple curiosity, becomes near obsession as Janet meets several of those involved in the school at that time—both pupils and staff—and finally discovers the truth about all those distant and disturbing events.