John Paul Davis, a wealthy computer executive and alum of the university, returns for the wedding of a favorite professor’s daughter. At the wedding reception, he renews his friendship with a beautiful postdoc, Rachel Howard, and meets an old enemy, Professor Dewit, who extends an insulting invitation for dinner at his home the next evening. Rachel confides in John Paul about some missing lab notes.
John Paul pumps aristocratic Chloe Manning, the owner of the bed and breakfast where he is staying, about Dewit and wife, Marie. Davis hears Marie had a lover, a young Midwestern boy. Inadvertently, Davis finds evidence that Chloe Manning was a member of La Fleur Noir, a secret French group of which Davis was once a member.
At the dinner, Davis and Howard meet Dewit’s wife, Marie; Jim Harrington, a federal funding agent; Tom Walkins, who is up for promotion; Arthur Lewis and his wife, Evelyn; and Dean Brent Parker, who is up for the post of president, and his wife, Gina. Sparks fly between all the guests. When Dewit explains his new research plans, Rachel, flushed and angry, accuses him of plagiarism and threatens him. The next morning, the Dewits are found dead—poisoned.
John Paul Davis finds himself in a dilemma. Who killed the Dewits—one of the professors, the postdoc Rachael Howard, or perhaps a student? Davis calls for help from his old mentor, Richard Moore, who is presently in China; the intriguing Chloe Manning; and the local police. But ultimately, Davis has to solve the murder in order to save his own life.