Havana in the 1850s is a city as dangerous as it is exotic. The murder of a humble night watchman at the British Consulate seems to worry neither the Consul nor the police. But one person cared for the old man. The enigmatic courtesan Leonarda will not rest until she understands the mystery of his death. In wintry England, George Backhouse is plucked from obscurity in the Foreign Office and given an unexpected promotion. His task: to travel to Cuba and take a stand against the illegal slave trade still flourishing there. But Havana is a tinderbox of intrigue. As the great powers of the region conspire against each other with increasing ruthlessness for control of the island, Backhouse comes to see that the most innocent of actions could spark a devastating war. To protect their interests, the powers-that-be in Whitehall are prepared to turn a blind eye to many things. Leonarda will not. But what of George Backhouse?