Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes's brother has returned from Hong Kong with a comfortable fortune and a new bride and is planning to build a house on land he's inherited. Because they want a house as much like an Elizabethan mansion as its mod cons will allow, they ask Penny's lover, Ringan Laine, to work on it as a consultant. Ringan is not only a noted musician but also a designer and architect well versed in the first Elizabeth's colorful period.
The house is to be on the Isle of Dogs, and Penny's brother, his new wife, and Penny herself are delighted with the site. Ringan, however, comes away feeling very uncomfortable. A few weeks later, in London on business, he goes back alone, hoping to clear up any misgivings he has about the place. But this visit is even worse than the first. He hears women's voices, frightening and full of passion, coming from the air around him.
That evening, Ringan is sleeping in Penny's flat; she has taken her theater troupe to Italy. A late-night phone call from Penny reveals to them both that they had an identical dream. In it, two young women on the Isle of Dogs are fighting. One is begging the other not to drown her. Their speech and their clothes put them firmly in the reign of Henry VIII. Once more, Penny and Ringan are being visited by tragic spirits from their country's past.
This is the fourth in Deborah Grabien's gripping and unusual Haunted Ballad series. Her stories pair two sophisticated and very likable people whose lives are invaded by tortured souls from England's history. With each encounter, Penny and Ringan are forced to find a way to lay a long-suffering ghost to rest.