Harriet Vane is long past marrying age, independent (like Mrs. Sayers herself, she is a mystery writer) ... and on top of all that, she was the primary suspect in the murder of her own fiancé not too long ago. So can she possibly be a good choice as the person that her alma mater, Oxford's [fictional] Shrewsbury College turns to in order to help solving crimes ranging from poison pen letters to acts of vandalism and assault? Not all of the college's dons think so. In fact, even before being called on for this delicate task, upon returning to Oxford for the first time in years for a school reunion ("Gaudy Night"), Harriet's presence in the college triggers thinly-veiled inquiries into the details of her encounter with the criminal justice system and, coincidentally with that experience, into her difficult friendship with Lord Peter Wimsey (much-acclaimed graduate of another Oxford college, diplomat, amateur sleuth and, for much of his career, one of literary history's most dashing bachelors). Shrewsbury's teachers and students, past and present, heatedly discuss issues ranging from a woman's choice between profession and family, and the respective values of independence and loyalty, to the meaning of truth and accuracy in a scholar's work ethics. Those who were never in favor of the college's decision to ask Harriet to help unraveling the secret behind the progressively evil deeds plaguing Shrewsbury are, predictably, even more scandalized when she ultimately brings in Lord Peter Wimsey; who after all, as everybody has long since concluded, is vying for her hand in marriage.