Yorkshire 1969. At a rock concert a murdered woman is found in a sleeping bag. The detective assigned to the case, Stanley Chadwick, is hard-headed and strait-laced. He could not have less in common with long-haired hippies. But he has a murder to solve, and it looks as if the victim was somehow associated with the up-and-coming band the Mad Hatters. In the present, Inspector Alan Banks is investigating the murder of a journalist who was working on a feature about the Mad Hatters. This is not the first time the aging rock superstars have been brushed by tragedy. Banks finds he has to delve into the past to find out exactly what hornets' nest the journalists stirred up.