Cambridge, 1888. When schoolmistress Vanessa Duncan learns of a murder at St John's College, little does she know that she will become deeply entangled in the mystery. Dr Geoffrey Akers, Fellow in Pure Mathematics, has been found dead, struck down by a violent blow to the head. What could provoke such a brutal act? Vanessa, finding herself in amongst Cambridge's brightest scholarly minds, discovers that the motive may lie in mathematics itself.
Drawn closer to the case by a blossoming friendship with mathematician Arthur Weatherburn, Vanessa begins to investigate. When she learns of Sir Isaac Newton's elusive 'n-body problem' and the prestigious prize offered to anyone with a solution, things begin to make sense. But with further deaths occurring and the threat of an innocent man being condemned, Vanessa must hurry with her calculations . . .