Stillton Academy on the coast north of Boston is in trouble. The academy's days are numbered unless extraordinary help arrives. Worse, a Stillton instructor has purportedly dis-appeared with a female first-year student, daughter of the Academy's only significant donor.
Two of the trustees travel to Boston where they ask wealthy, intensely secretive art collector Clayton Reed for the services of his employee, Fred Taylor. Fred goes undercover as a member of the faculty and soon discovers conflicting motives and designs among faculty and students, as well as a board of trustees whose interest in the long-term survival of the operation seems lazy, misguided or—perhaps—a good deal more sinister.
Meanwhile, the motives of Taylor's employer remain obscure. What is it that whets his acute acquisitive instincts? He will only say, "Trust no one. Look at everything." In sleepy Stillton, a town suspiciously backward, un-exploited, and ripe for development, what hidden treasure is Clayton hoping for? And can Fred find it before the college goes up in flames?