The annual convention of an Episcopal Diocese in the upper South is thrown into an uproar in 1994 after someone murders Bishop Randolph Tucker Cabell. Potential suspects include a wide variety of characters, ranging from theological fanatics to a slightly deranged and belligerent auto mechanic. Protagonists Ned Cheyleigh, the bishop's assistant, and Arabella "Bella" Howard Hampton, the aristocratic diocesan newspaper editor, seek the killer, in a twisting plot involving switched identities. The bishop is poisoned, stabbed, and shot, in a bizarre episode, and three different people believe that they have killed him. Ned and Bella's budding romance includes a humorous search for her supposed noble ancestors, and a flashback to middle 19th century Arundel Castle in England. Period (1994) themes include the plight of migrant workers and the issue of homosexuality in the church.