The gathering has the appearance of a smart autumn house party - stunning women and powerful men enjoying a few days of leisurely pleasure in a setting of exquisite beauty. In fact, the guests are Irish Protestants and Catholics gathered in reluctant parley over home rule for Ireland, a problem that has plagued the British Isles since the reign of Elizabeth I. When the meeting's moderator, government bigwig Ainsley Greville, is found murdered in his bath, the negotiations seem doomed. Superintendent Thomas Pitt of Scotland Yard almost despairs as divorce proceedings involving the great Irish Nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell and his mistress, Kitty O'Shea, become an open scandal. To make matters worse, it seems the late Greville himself may have had a less than savory personal life. The surviving guests - six men and five women - unleash their true feelings, or perhaps only pretend to. Their servants follow suit. Unless Pitt and his clever wife, Charlotte, can root out the truth, simmering passions above and below stairs may again explode in murder, the hopeful home rule movement may collapse, and civil war may destroy Ireland.