Who could enact such a deadly design, lurking behind the scenes? As book holder and stage manager of theatrical company Lord Westfield's Men, Nicholas Bracewell is accustomed to solving problems. So when he discovers the naked corpse of a man while crossing the Thames by boat one night, he becomes determined to unravel its mystery. After several attacks on the company's members, Nicholas begins to suspect a connection - could these apparently accidental events be part of some hidden design? When Lord Westfield's Men are asked to stage one of their comedies at the Nine Giants in Richmond, Nicholas must put aside his worries and focus on the play. But as the attacks become more sinister, culminating in a grisly death, Nicholas is under increasing pressure to prevent more disaster . . .