Is the young man simply drunk or does his staggering walk suggest something more sinister? When he collapses in front of the two sisters on that dark, wet night, the women guess rightly that he's been poisoned. So begins this gripping tale set in the town of Banff, Scotland in the 1620s. The body of the victim, the apothecary's apprentice, is found in the house of Alexander Seaton - a fallen minister, the discovery of whose clandestine love affair has left him disgraced and deprived him of his vocation. Why was the body moved to Seaton's house? What is the significance of the unusual poison used to kill him? And why would anyone want to murder this likeable young man? Seaton sets out to find answers to these and many other questions, embarking on a journey where he encounters the witch hunt, extreme religious prejudice, cruelty and the darkness in men's souls. It is also a personal quest that leads Alexander to the rediscovery of his faith in God and his belief in himself.