1894. Mr Simeon Crosby, a retired executioner, comes to Wigan with his wife and brother to give a talk on his life’s work. Whilst he has an eager following, there are also many people who strongly object to Crosby’s profession and do not wish his melancholy shadow to be cast over their town. Protests have been organised and threats have been made. Detective Sergeant Brennan is tasked with overseeing the security of the controversial visitor and all seems to be going to plan…until a murder is committed on the night of Crosby’s talk. As Brennan and his brawny constable Freddie Jaggery begin their lines of inquiry, they become overwhelmed with suspects and frustrated at the ambiguity of the evidence.