Like any small community, Linchester has its intrigues: love affairs, money problems, unhappy marriages. But the gossip is elevated to new heights when young Patrick Selby dies on the very night of his beautiful wife's birthday party.
The whole neighbourhood was there, witness to the horrible attack of wasp stings Patrick suffered at the end of the evening. But did Patrick die of a wasp sting? Dr. Greenleaf thinks not. Heart failure, more likely.
Still, Greenleaf isn't at peace about his death. After all, everyone in Linchester hated Patrick. With the help of a certain naturalist, Dr. Greenleaf begins to think about murder.