It is 1807 and portrait painter Charles Corday, charged with the murder of a Countess he was in the process of painting, has only seven days to live. Political pressures make it expedient for the Home Office to confirm his guilt. The man appointed to investigate is Rider Sandman, whose qualifications for the job are non-existent and who is currently down on his luck. The offer of even a temporary post, promising a generous fee for not much effort, seems ideal. But Sandman's investigations reveal much that does not fit the verdict, and many people determined to halt his activities. Sandman has a soldier's skills and he has remarkable, if unconventional, allies. But ranged against them is a cabal of some of the wealthiest and most ruthless men of Regency England. Sandman has a mere seven days to snatch an innocent man from the hungriest gallows of Europe. The hangman is waiting. It is a race against the noose.