Oxford's Chief Inspector Morse rarely ever takes a holiday but here we find him vacationing in Dorset when a letter appears in The Times offering a clue to the whereabouts of a young female Swedish student, Karin Erikksson, who disappeared in Oxfordshire nearly a year earlier. She was never seen again and is presumed dead. The letter writer suggests where the body might be found. This leads to a series of letters published in the paper attempting to interpret the clues that the original writer has offered.
Morse sees the letters and is, of course, intrigued. Back from vacation, he manages to get assigned to the case along with his faithful sergeant, Lewis. From the clues in the paper, Morse determines where the body must be. Sure enough, searchers find the remains of a body but from that point on, things become even more baffling than they were before.
It soon appears that Ms. Erikksson was very short of cash and may have been willing to make some compromises in order to get some money. Morse discovers a cast of creepy characters who may have been involved in her disappearance and slowly sorts things out to a startling conclusion.
This is one of the better books in this series, and Morse continues to be a very appealing protagonist, especially when he's got a pint in his hand and his thinking cap on. As usually happens, there's a randy woman or two who will come his way, brightening his day and the reader's as well. Fans of the series will not want to miss this one.