The Napoleonic wars have been over for years, but Nicholas Ainsley is still battling his disillusionment and the scars he suffered during the British retreat from Corunna. Seeking to forget, he accepts employment as an inquiry agent and is drawn into a complex murder investigation. Lord Taunton is killed just a few weeks before he plans to marry a young debutante. The dead earl's closest friend claims Taunton's mistress, Kathryn, killed the earl because his plans to marry another woman enraged her. Despite the evidence increasingly pointing to Kathryn, Nicholas believes she may be innocent. Others have equally strong motives to want the earl dead. Taunton cultivated a series of illusions to hide the details of his private life, and Nicholas is sure that one of the carefully constructed veils may be hiding the face of the killer.
As he digs deeper, Nicholas discovers an older mystery left unresolved. Is the earl's death related to the seven-year-old tragedy, or was his murder committed for entirely different reasons? Nicholas is determined to rip away the illusions and reveal the face of the vicious killer, regardless of personal cost.