At a wedding party in Cornwall in the summer of 1981, Chirs Napier is shocked to recognise a dishevelled intruder as his childhood friend Nicky Lanyon, whom he has not seen since his father, Michael Lanyon, was hanged for the murder of Chris's great uncle, Joshua Carnoweth, in 1947. It was the simple inheritance of old Joshua's fortune that led the then humble Napier family to their present state of affluence. When Nicky subsequently hangs himself, Chris sets out on a journey into his own and others' memories of the tragic events of 34 years before. Driven on by Nicky's firm belief in his father's innocence, Chris begins to doubt the official version of those events and to question the conduct of several members of his own family. Then other present-day mysteries begin to dog his footsteps into the past and soon his search for the truth becomes a desperate struggle for his own survival.