Venice, July, 1613: A suspicious drowning in the Lagoon and a deadly assault on a bridge shatter the dreams of Captain Lorenzo Contarini and his fiancée, la Signorina Caterina Zanchi, members of two noble Venetian families. While Caterina’s severe injuries banish her from society, her parents remove their other daughter, Leonora, from the convent to become Lorenzo’s hasty wife. Lorenzo’s investigation into his half-sister’s death compels him to accuse his maternal aunt, the Abbess of San Zaccaria, of murder. The ruthless Abbess deflects attention from herself by demonizing Leonora’s fellow nun and lover, Suor Serafina, as well as members of her own family. She is ably assisted by the feared and implacable Office of the Inquisition. The subsequent public trial brings together all of Venice and tests familial, religious, sexual, and political alliances. Old secrets are revealed to an avid crowd seeking cruel entertainment, forcing all present to wonder if it is possible to discover the entire truth. At once comforted by the ceaseless lap and sway of the enclosed Lagoon and threatened by the efficient cruelty of the Republic, those whose tale this is live and breathe in an ever-shifting world of bigotry and prejudice. Venice is never quite what it seems.