CI John Barnaby arrives in Causton on his cousin Tom's retirement. Jones misses his old boss and the two men do not gel, especially as Barnaby seems dismissive of Jones' efforts to restore a vintage car once driven by local racer Duncan Palmer for a classic car competition hosted at her school by frosty headmistress Harriet Wingate. Palmer faked his death in the 1960s but was actually found dead in Midsomer some years later. His old team-mate Peter Fossett is judging the contest and the entrants include Peter's brisk, bossy daughter Kate Cameron and her ex-husband Jamie, now in love with Harriet's shy daughter Jessica. Kate will do anything to win, enlisting the help of the other judge, radio D.J. Dave 'Doggy' Day, who is found murdered. Soon after another young man is killed, who turns out to be involved with Kate's precocious schoolgirl daughter Charlotte in drug dealing. After Barnaby has discovered that Duncan Palmer was Jessica's father, he confronts the killer, but has cause to show respect for Jones who rescues him from being another victim of death in the slow lane.

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