When a body is found lying in the road, many in Dartmouth assume that a drunk had fallen and killed himself. At the same time, the town is on alert because a ship has been found ravaged by pirates out at sea, the crew killed or captured. Is this the beginning of a new onslaught by pirates, or is something more sinister happening? Sir Baldwin de Furnshill has been told of spies and messengers being sent to the great traitor Roger Mortimer in France. If the messengers reach Mortimer, civil war in England will soon break out. This is the most important investigation of their lives: it could result in their own execution if they fail to learn the facts. But if they succeed, other men will want them silenced forever.