With his lordship's mental health failing, management of his grand country estate has been assigned to a group of trustees, including land agent Matthew Rowsley and his wife Harriet. But the smooth running of Thorncroft House is disrupted by a series of unforeseen events. Building work on the estate workers' new cottages is halted by the discovery of Roman remains. The family butler is brutally assaulted and left for dead. Matters take an even more disturbing turn when Lord Croft's long-lost cousin, Julius Trescothick, arrives from Australia. But is he who he claims to be? If they are to preserve Thorncroft House, Matthew and Harriet must uncover the truth behind Trescothick's identity and solve a series of interlocking mysteries.