When fire destroys their London theatre, Lord Westfield's players must seek out humbler venues in the countryside. But stage manager Nicholas Bracewell is distracted by a shocking tragedy – a mysterious messenger from his native Devon, murdered by poison. Though the messenger is silenced, Nicholas understands what he must do: return to his birthplace and conclude some unfinished business from his past. The rest of Westfield's Men, penniless and dejected, ride forth with him on a tour that will perhaps become their valedictory, dogged as they are by plague, poverty, rogues and thieves. And among the sinister shadows that glide silently with them towards Devon is one who means Nicholas never to arrive . . .