Victoria, 1869. The ramshackle capital of British Columbia, the last colony in North America, where a few thousand settlers aspire to the values of the Victorian age while coexisting beside the native Indians that vastly outnumber them. That peace is challenged when a mutilated body is discovered: Dr. McCrory, an American alienist whose methods include phrenology, Mesmerism, and sexual-mystical magnetation. Chad Hobbes, recently arrived from England, is the policeman who must solve the crime. At first it's assumed the murderer was a Tsimshian medicine man, Wiladzap, who has already been arrested. It would be easy for Hobbes to let Wiladzap swing for the murder, but his own interest in an Indian woman causes him to look at the case in more detail. And once he does, he discovers that everyone who knew McCrory seems to have something to hide.