When a young chambermaid is found dead, bitten by a cobra concealed in the bed of notorious libertine Armand de Périgord, Inspector Jean-Paul Gautier is certain that she was not the intended victim. The charismatic de Périgord is very wealthy and has never married, and some very salacious stories circulate regarding his many affairs. Could the cobra have been planted by a jealous husband or a jilted lover?
When Gautier is put in touch with the widowed Catriona Becker to tutor him in English, he soon discovers that she has fallen victim to a ruthless blackmailer. The tale she tells him provides another insight into the shady activities of de Périgord and Gautier is soon facing more than one case of blackmail . . . and murder.