Meet Inigo Bright. He's a bored young lawyer working in Bristol after the abolition of the slave trade. A frustrated artist, at odds with his wealthy merchant family, and engaged to a girl he no longer loves, Inigo's dissatisfaction is complete when his boss and mentor, Adam Carthy, charges him with the numbing task of reconciling years of port fees and import duties for the newly formed Dock Company. But detail is the devil's mask.
Inigo's routine investigation leads him to The Belsize, a ship newly returned from the Indies, laden with rum, sugar, tobacco, and a chilling secret. Those in the city whose interests the secret protects move swiftly and savagely to keep the truth hidden at all costs.
Before long Inigo, his boss and family, are implicated and under threat. A cover-up seems the only way out. But Inigo has linked the case to a charred corpse found on a building site in the rising district of Clifton and soon there are other bodies to account for, too.
Christopher Wakling is a novelist and travel writer whose previous books include On Cape, Three Points, The Undertow and Towards The Sun. Born in 1970, he was educated at Oxford, and has worked as a teacher and a lawyer. He lives in Bristol with his wife and children.