The forbears of Sir John Jory, of New Hall, would seem to have committed several foul acts, including tomb-robbery and murder. Old Hall, the family's former residence, is now a University. Biographer Colin Clout, engaged to write an account of one of Jory's ancestors, gets caught up in a frenzied treasure hunt as rival interests and rival claimants probe the past and naked greed comes to the fore.
Julius Miles is a mathematical genius, but he is hefty of frame, awkward with the opposite sex and struggling to bring his existence into balance. When he stumbles across the girl next door naked and dead on her Victorian tiles, he starts to unravel the one equation that's eluded him: that of his own life. And so it is that with the most unlikely of assistants - a transsexual Cupid with a penchant for drugs - he embarks on a quest to find the truth about love, death, family, and how, ultimately, you make your numbers happy.