Spring, 1663: public London is executing plans to mark the third anniversary of the Restoration. Private London, murky, dangerous, and seething with intrigue, is entertaining other plans. And other executions - such as the death of wealthy merchant Matthew Webb and the killing of an apparent vagrant during a royal procession. Thomas Chaloner, spy for the King's intelligence service, soon realises that both murders point in one direction: upwards, towards the great and supposedly good. Embroiled in the investigations, Chaloner soon suspects that the deaths have links with the powerful, secretive Company of Barber-Surgeons and their Anatomical Theatre.