The surprise suicide of a young man with - apparently - everything to live for, prompts his family to ask Marcus Corvinus to investigate. All they really want is an explanation. But Marcus's sleuthing uncovers many contradictory elements in the tale, and he is forced to conclude that this wasn't suicide at all, but murder. As usual, he needs Perilla's agile brain to untangle the complexities of the case and the pair come to realise that the suicide scenario has a political, as well as a personal, dimension. As if that's not enough, Corvinus finds his investigations hampered by his new role as reluctant dog-sitter to the seriously misnamed Placida, a Gallic boarhound with a gargantuan appetite and minimal personal hygiene.