During his wife's semester-long visit as guest lecturer at bucolic Garwood College, private investigator Phil Oxnard is called in to investigate a rash of campus robberies. Soon thievery, poetic clues, and murder combine to provide a new challenge for Oxnard, who has recently opened his own detective agency.
Strangely, each stolen item reappears conspicuously for its owner to find-and each one is accompanied by a short verse. Taken together, the verses provide clues to the identity of the thieves. But before Oxnard can conclude his investigation, Garwood's controversial dean is found murdered, and the college asks Oxnard to assist the local police in their investigation. There is a rift among the dean's faculty in regard to his manipulative hiring practices, with his admirers and detractors vehemently defending their respective positions. Oxnard confronts several suspects, including disgruntled faculty members, a fired computer technician, and the head of campus maintenance, all of whom despised the overbearing dean.
After wasting time on false leads, Oxnard finds that the identity of the unlikely killer will have huge implications for Garwood College.
A private detective investigating a series of thefts gets called to a larger case when a prominent dean is murdered. Low-key Phil Oxnard, who has by chance come to detective work in his retirement years, seems the ideal man to solve the idiosyncratic robberies at a small, private college where discretion is highly desired. Slow, steady rhythm and polite demeanor feeds this charming mystery. -Kirkus Discoveries