Simla 1922. While the rest of India bakes in the hot season, up in the pine-scented coolness of the Himalayan hills, the English have recreated a vision of home. Here are half-timbered houses, amateur theatricals, gymkhanas and a glittering vice-regal court for the socialites. The summer capital of the British Raj is fizzing with the energy of the jazz age.
It is toward this delightful country that detective Joe Sandilands is heading as the guest of Sir George Jardine, the governor of Bengal. But when Joe's travelling companion, a Russian opera singer, is shot dead at his side in the governor's car on the road up to Simla, he finds himself plunged into a murder investigation. Confronted by the mystery of an identical unsolved killing a year before, Joe realizes that Sir George's hospitality comes at a high price.
As Joe begins to unravel a mystery which has its roots in the aftermath of the First World War, he discovers that behind the sparkling facade of social life in Simla lies a trail of murder, vice and blackmail. Someone in this close-knit community has a sinister secret and the nearer Joe comes to uncovering it, the nearer he comes to his own death.