The corpse of a distinguished professor of English, Adam Warren, is found in his office by rookie campus cop Peggy O'Neill. The conditions of his death are grisly: his skull was crushed by a hammer. Though evidence suggests that Warren has been killed by a thief surprised in the act of stealing a computer, O'Neill strikes out on her own to explore other possibilities. Her search leads her to suspects within the university community, including Warren's secretary, Doris Parker; his colleague and former protege, poet Lee Pierce; and Jack Becker, a specialist in criminology. O'Neill is drawn simplistically and superficially, and Lake provides some diverting plot twists.