London 1700. The intrepid and impecunious heroines Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her maidservant, Alpiew, are scavenging for scandal for that scurrilous rag, the London Trumpet. With the bailiffs, as ever, in hot pursuit, the Countess and Alpiew escape to a philosophical lecture at the York Building's concert hall. But their dull evening is confounded when one player staggers onto the stage, hands dripping with blood. A doyenne has been decapitated under their very noses! The unlikely sleuths find an abundance of suspects: players, fanatics, a Punch-and-Judy man - not to mention a painter with a silver proboscis. They pursue their quarry from the Tower of London to Bedlam, with a brief detour to the wilds of Wapping, uncovering a shocking web of intrigue and corruption extending to the highest echelons of society and the judiciary.