In an emotional reaction to the violent death of his protege D.S. Barnard, Frost has tendered his resignation from the police force. Superintendent Mullett, realizing that the acceptance of Frost's resignation would damage his bid for promotion, maneuvers Frost into a temporary withdrawal of his resignation. Frost's return to duty coincides with the return of Hazel Wallace, now a newly promoted Detective Sergeant, who is in the early stages of an investigation into the suspicious death of Lester Bryce Jones, a reclusive art dealer. Frost becomes involved when fingerprints found in the Bryce-Jones apartment are identified as being those of the Appendix Man, found drowned in Denton River over a year previously. A David Hockney painting, stolen in an art theft eight years earlier, resurfaces, leading Frost and Wallace into a labyrinth of duplicity and deception.