While walking through a cliff-top graveyard in the town of Morwenstow on the coast of Cornwall, the author encounters a wooden Scottish figurehead that once adorned the Caledonia, a ship wrecked on the English coast in 1842. Through further investigation, Seal begins to suspect the townspeople, and chiefly the town's parson, Robert Hawker, for the Caledonia's demise on the jagged shores below. Though no one has ever been brought to court for "wrecking"-luring ships ashore to loot the cargo-it's a commonly held belief that this sort of cruelty did take place. But, is that what happened in Morwenstow?
Having meticulously researched maritime logs, broadsides of the day, and other first-hand documents, Seal weaves history, travelogue, and imaginative reconstruction into this marvelous piece of detective work, bringing us a mystery of the best kind-the sort that really did happen.