For mile after mile the strangler vines choked the sal trees, one grey trunk encircling another, until the whole jungle resembled some terrible tangled knot in which it was impossible to tell murderer from victim.'
Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India - or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing.
William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company's army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. A more mismatched duo couldn't be imagined, but they must bury their differences as they are caught up in a search that turns up too many unanswered questions and seems bound to end in failure.
What was it that so captivated Mountstuart about the Thugs, the murderous sect of Kali-worshippers who strangle innocent travellers by the roadside? Who is Jeremiah Blake and can he be trusted? And why is the whole enterprise shrouded in such secrecy?
In the dark heart of Company India, Avery will have to fight for his very life, and in defence of a truth he will wish he had never learned.