On a trip from Paris to London in October 1789 Anne Cartier learns that her rich young deaf friend, Janice Parker, has almost been murdered. With Dick Burton, retired Bow Street officer, Anne searches for the perpetrators in London, Bath and Bristol. She discovers that Janice's uncle and guardian, Thomas Parker, his mistress Amelia Swan, and his half-brother Captain Seth Judd, are involved in a faltering smuggling ring and covet her money. Judd had killed Janice's parents. He and Amelia now conspire to kill Janice, then Parker, and secure the inheritance for themselves.