Called in to solve an inconvenient murder before the whores riot, the lawyer James Enys must find a serial killer hiding among the cutpurses, lawyers, players, fugitive priests, pursuivants and whores of Elizabethan London. If he fails, he'll be charged with the crime himself. The mob just wants a murderer, after all, and he's as likely to have done it as any man.
But James Enys isn't the man they think he is. Aided by a certain bald young playwright (with a sonnet to write) who knows his secret, the lawyer finds that he must follow the trail of evidence into the closed world of Elizabethan women, where no man could venture. Only a woman would be welcome here.
It is fortunate indeed that Mr Enys has a sister. She is as intelligent as he is, and resembles him in both appearance and manner. Except, of course, that she is a woman, which in Elizabethan times, means that her opportunities are restricted. She can't go out solving crimes; she can't even practice as a lawyer.
The curious fact is, James Enys's sister is never seen in public at the same time as he is - but only Shakespeare has guessed the truth about the quiet, determined, ambitious young lawyer with a knack of seeing beneath the surface.
Shakespeare knows an attractive woman when he sees one.