Part 1: In which David Staunton, the son of the deceased tycoon Boy Staunton, seeks psychoanalytical help in Zurich to help resolve the mystery of his father's death and investigate whether or not Dunstan Ramsay might by bis real father. Part 2: In which David Staunton continues his psycho-analysis in Zurich and falls in love with his analyst, Dr Helena Von Haller. Part 3: In which David Staunton completes his psycho-analytical cure in Zurich and meets up with Dunstan Ramsay and the magician Magnus Eisengrimm. The mystery of Boy Staunton's death is partially resolved.
Robertson Davies uses his magical touch to weave together the destinies of this remarkable cast of characters, creating a wise and witty portrait of love, murder, and scholarship at a modern university.