Westfield's Men, the Elizabethan theater troupe at the heart of Edward Marston's intricate and popular series, are enjoying good fortune in their native London. Their talented playwright is at work on his next opus, set to open in a few short weeks, and the group's trusty stage manager and reliable problem-solver Nicholas Bracewell is looking forward to a productive and calm season. Unfortunately for Nicholas, his friendship with Frank Quilter, a young actor who's just joined the troupe, is about to cause him a lot of trouble. Frank's father has been arrested and accused of a murder he didn't commit, and before anyone can figure out what to do he's convicted and hanged for his crime. Destroyed, young Frank promises to avenge his father, at the expense of the play Westfield's Men have contracted to perform. Nicholas, who's loyalty is split between the company and his newfriend, agrees to help Frank on condition that he fulfill his obligations as an actor. Enter an unlikely ally in the form of one Moll Comfrey, a comely young saleswoman with more to sell than meets the eye. She has the key to the whole mystery hidden somewhere on her person, and it's up to Nicholas to find out what she's hiding (by whatever means necessary) before the theater, not to mention Frank's life, goes dark.