London in 1667
One night Sir Orlando Trelawney, Justice at the Court of King's Bench is called to Whitehall. A decapitated body has been found in the royal palace. King Charles II orders Sir Orlando to investigate the death of the unknown man. But without the head it is next to impossible to identify the murder victim and Sir Orlando's efforts seem to be doomed to failure from the start - particularly since the King expressly forbids him to consult his friend, the Catholic priest Jeremy Blackshaw.
While Sir Orlando is still trying to keep him out of his investigations, Jeremy already makes his own inquiries, because he knew the dead man. With the help of Amoret, the King's mistress he ventures into the treacherous waters of the Court. There the murderer is not the only one to be hiding a terrible secret. Charles himself seems to know more about the crime than he cares to admit.
To his dismay Sir Orlando is soon forced to realise that his search for the killer will expose himself and his family to mortal danger.