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Detective Sergeant (and amateur archaeologist) Wesley Peterson hoped that a transfer from the lively but frantic pace of London to the bucolic river port of Tradmouth would have a positive effect on both his personal and professional lives. But Wes's first day on the job has hardly begun before he finds himself heading up an investigation into the murder of an unidentified young woman whose face has been brutally disfigured. And it's not long before Wes discovers that the Tradmouth force is as hopelessly overstretched as London's Met; in addition to the unidentified murder victim, the local police have been embroiled in a frantic search for a missing child. As Wes and his fellow detectives try to determine the identity of the young woman in hopes of catching her murderer, a strange parallel emerges between this case and a nearby archeological dig being conducted by Wes's college friend. Two skeletons have been unearthed in the ruins of a seventeenth-century merchant's house, one of them the apparent victim of a four-hundred-year-old murder. At first Wes is interested on a purely personal level, but strange connections between the murdered girl, the missing child, and the murder that occurred four hundred years ago soon begin to surface. Wes must act quickly to prove his suspicions, before another body joins those already residing in the dust of the merchant's house.