Inspector Everett Parsons of Scotland Yard's fledgling Criminal Investigation Department is delighted when a chance meeting with Alexander de Courcey - an old school friend - leads to an invitation to Beaumont Castle, the de Courcey's ancestral home. But what he envisages as a glittering social occasion leads instead into a sordid world of lust, murder and blackmail. Set in England in 1880 - a country threatened by Irish Fenian terrorism - Parsons finds Beaumont to be a far cry from the cultured setting he imagines it to be after meeting the beautiful Lady Annabelle and Alexander's bohemian friends. Instead he encounters the drunkenness and debauchery of Lord Quentin and his sycophants. When a murder occurs, Parsons is horrified by the way the Chief Constable mishandles the investigation; and as well as the local police he finds himself at odds with members of the de Courcey family when other crimes are committed. Only by resolutely pursuing his own enquiries does he unravel the family's dark secrets and its links with the tragic histories of Ireland, Jamaica and America. Only then can he prevent a gross miscarriage of justice and solve the mystery of the Beaumont murders.