Inspector Thomas Pitt and his superior Narraway are called to Buckingham Palace. On arrival they are ushered to a somewhat panicked Prince of Wales. A prostitute has been murdered in the palace and the Prince needs Special Branch's help to apprehend the culprit. Pitt narrows the suspects down to a group of guests meeting with the Prince to discuss the funding for the Cape to Cairo railway. He realises that in order to find the murderer, he will have to reconcile his own concept of justice with those who feel it is within their right to make their own laws. For in high society, lineage and power are everything and it is a courageous man that stands in its way.