New England. 1648. The Piscataqua Settlement. A young woman has been found dead, her violated body stripped naked and thrown in a river. Her husband, a reclusive and learned man, has mysteriously halted his legal proceedings against the most likely suspect, who has disappeared into the wilderness. The settlement’s elders call on a young Englishman, Richard Browne, to discover the truth about what happened. But the more he learns, the more puzzling the crime becomes, and the more he finds himself drawn to the wife of the missing suspect.