April, 1196. An unidentified body is discovered in the harbour town of Axmouth, 20 miles from Exeter, and county coroner Sir John de Wolfe investigates. The manner of the young man's death is disputable. Sir John discovers the victim didn't drown, as the manor reeve alleges, but was strangled. Then there appears to be a conspiracy of silence among the seamen and townsfolk. What are they hiding? Sir John hatches a cunning plan, but is he playing with fire? Some would go to any length to ensure the truth remains hidden, and Crowner John must use his courage and ingenuity to escape with his life.