Aberdeen, 1841. Woodcarver John Grant is commissioned to create a figurehead for the nautical melodramas of a visiting theatre company. He’s also intrigued by the mystery of the death of a young woman whose body is found in the filth of a harbour street. Helen Anderson is the daughter of a successful Aberdeen ship owner and merchant. She and John met in The Figurehead. Their love grew but Helen resists marriage, which tends to make the wife the property of the husband. She’s also pestering her father to let her become part of his business – an unheard of ambition for a woman in mid-Victorian society. Eventually, he agrees but then she asks to sail on one of his ships. It seems a step too far but she does make the voyage. The story’s three threads – the mystery, the romance, and the theatrical performance come together in totally unforeseen outcomes.