When a nocturnal hike turns deadly, Professor Peter Shandy takes an interest in owl spotting.
Emory Emmerick comes to Balaclava Agricultural University as a scout for a television station. Although the faculty and students are hardly ready for prime time, Emmerick's interest is in environmental programming — a subject that inspires even the driest Balaclava professor to wax poetic. In his search for material, Emmerick joins Peter Shandy and a few of his colleagues on the annual owl-count. And though the television producer's loud mouth and heavy feet make him a dismal birdwatcher, none of the academics expect him to make a fatal blunder.
Chasing what appears to be a badly lost snowy owl, Emmerick stumbles into a trap that yanks him into a tree. By the time the professors reach him, he's been stabbed to death. Discovering that the snowy owl was nothing more than a handful of feathers attached to a fishing pole, Shandy concludes that Emmerick was murdered. Plenty of people might like to kill a television producer, but which would-be killer had the gall to make the helpless Nyctea scandiaca an accomplice?