Murray Whelan, political adviser to the newly appointed minister of culture, Angelo ("Tell me, Murray, what are the Arts?") Agnelli, is hanging on to his job by his toenails after the most recent ministerial shake-up. His learning curve is forced quickly upward when, on his first day, the disgruntled young artist Marcus Taylor is found dead, drowned in the ornamental moat outside the National Gallery. The police rule it a suicide, or perhaps an accident. Murray is not so sure. Besides, this ugly incident occurred on Agnelli's watch, so the heat is on. A born detective despite himself, Murray digs, and the deeper he goes, the more puzzling the mystery becomes. Who is this other painter, Victor Szabo, also dead, unknown in his lifetime and now the darling of the art world, with works fetching crazy prices - funded in part by the government? And what about suave businessman and art maven Lloyd Eastlake, who is whispering financial sweet nothings in Angelo Angelli's ear?