'For the most part, the dead man received public sympathy. A decent, hardworking chap, with not an enemy anywhere. People were surprised that anybody should want to kill Jim.' But Jim has been drowned in the Dumb River, near Ely, miles from his Yorkshire home.
His body, clearly dumped in the usually silent (`dumb') waterway, has been discovered before the killer intended - disturbed by a torrential flood. With critical urgency it's up to Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard to trace the mystery of the unassuming victim's murder to its source, leaving waves of scandal and sensation in his wake as the hidden, salacious dealings of Jim Teasdale begin to surface.